Three Acadiana men are among six people indicted in federal court in New Orleans, accused of being part of a wire fraud and money laundering scheme.
Lance Vallo, 37, of Gueydan, Grant Menard, 35 of Kaplan; and Zeb Sartin, 35, of Lafayette, were all named in the indictment handed up by a federal grand jury on Friday.
Also indicted were Ryan Mullen, 41, of Mississippi; Duane Dufrene, 55, of Destrehan; and Dillon Arceneaux, 31, of Marrero.
The indictment alleges that Mullen and Dufrene conspired with the other four men to use several Louisiana shell companies without assets to defraud a merchant cash company that is based in Georgia.
Mullen and Dufrene set up the other four men as owners of existing corporations, then created fake vendor accounts for those corporations, the indictment alleges. Mullen is also accused of creating falsified bank records for the companies, and of using an alias to hold himself out as a broker for the companies.
The indictment alleges that Mullen supplied the victim company with those fake vendor accounts and fake bank records to obtain funding. The Georgia company approved the advances, and began to wire money to Arceneaux, Vallo, Menard and Sartin.
Those cash advances were millions of dollars, the indictment alleges.
Arceneaux, Vallo, Menard and Sartin are accused of laundering some of the money by paying Mullen and Dufrene a percentage. The non-existent businesses were then closed, and the Georgia company was never fully repaid for the advances, the indictment alleges.
The Georgia company allegedly lost approximately $6.4 million dollars, the indictment alleges.
If convicted, the men face a maximum sentence of five years on the wire fraud conspiracy charge, and a maximum sentence of up to 20 years on the money laundering conspiracy charge, as well as $250,000 in fines on the wire fraud charge and $500,000 in fines on the money laundering charges.
The government also filed a forfeiture notice, asking the court to forfeit several Rolls Royces and Bentleys that Mullen bought.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Edward J. Rivera and Andre Lagarde.