Three Guilty of Laundering Money Embezzled from Sherwin Alumina

Richard Lopez, 43, Benjamin Martinez, 74, and Toby Clarkson, 39, have all pleaded guilty to federal money laundering charges related to an embezzlement scheme at Sherwin Alumina Company, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. At a hearing before United States District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos held yesterday morning, Lopez, Martinez and Clarkson admitted they worked together to launder funds embezzled from Sherwin Alumina.

The investigation began when Sherwin Alumina became aware that Lopez, one of Sherwin Alumina’s warehouse managers, had colluded with two of Sherwin’s vendors, Clarkson and Martinez, in a fraud scheme which caused Sherwin Alumina to mail payments for materials that were never actually delivered. Agents with the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) were able to determine that the proceeds of the fraud were laundered as they were transferred among the participants in a series of monetary transactions. The federal indictment, returned Sept. 14, 2011, alleged 14 monetary transactions each in excess of $10,000, occurring between Feb. 12, 2007, and Nov. 26, 2007. At yesterday’s hearing, Lopez, Martinez and Clarkson each pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering related to a specific monetary transaction occurring on Nov. 26, 2007.

Lopez, Martinez and Clarkson each face up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000—or twice the value of the criminally derived property. Following any sentence of incarceration each would additionally be assessed a period of up to three years of supervised release. The defendants have already paid restitution to Sherwin Alumina totaling more than $285,000.

Lopez, Martinez, and Clarkson have all been allowed to remain on bond pending the sentencing hearing, set for Jan. 23, 2012, at 9:00 a.m.

The case was investigated by agents of the FBI and the IRS-CI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert D. Thorpe Jr.