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CFO Sink Uncovers Fraudulent Check-cashing Scheme; Delivers $325,000 in Restitution

9/3/2008

CONTACT:  Tara Klimek or Nina Banister
                 (850) 413-2842
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced today that an investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ (DFS) Division of Insurance Fraud, has led to more than 110 criminal charges against Christiano Leonardo Gloria, the operator of one of the largest check-cashing operations in Broward County, for allegedly conspiring in a major money-laundering and workers’ compensation fraud scheme.  Attorney General Bill McCollum’s Office of Statewide Prosecution will be prosecuting the case. 
 
DFS investigators arrested Gloria on Friday on racketeering charges stemming from his alleged support of a workers’ compensation premium fraud in the construction industry through Vionaldo Express, Inc., a money transmitter business that he operated.  So far, the investigation has led to $325,000 in restitution.
 
“Unfortunately, there are check cashing operations that are helping companies avoid providing workers’ compensation coverage for their employees,” said CFO Sink, who oversees DFS and the state’s Division of Workers’ Compensation.  “Our top priority is protecting Florida’s citizens, and we will hold employers and those who help them accountable if they violate the laws that protect injured workers.”
 
Gloria is being held in the Broward County Jail without bond.  The charges will be prosecuted by the Office of Statewide Prosecution.
 
DFS Lead Investigator Detective Geoffrey Branch found that individuals set up shell construction companies and lied on insurance applications, primarily to Florida Citrus Business and Industries Fund (FCBI), to obtain workers’ compensation certificates of insurance. One of those shell companies, WM South Florida Construction, defrauded the FCBI in excess of $500,000 in premiums over a four-year period, and failed to remit taxes on a payroll of approximately $27 million. The payroll money was laundered through money transmitters in South Florida, including Vionaldo Express, from September 2002 through March 2007.
 
Gloria allegedly completed fraudulent currency transaction reports at Vionaldo Express, and submitted them to the IRS, stating that the person receiving cash from the shell companies’ checks was Dero William Viera in Brazil. Gloria held aside a percentage for cashing the checks, and also set aside a percentage of seven to 10 percent of each check as ‘rent’ to be distributed to Viera and other co-defendants.
 
The scheme allegedly provided contractors with certificates of insurance reflecting that dozens of subcontractors and hundreds of employees, oftentimes undocumented workers, were covered by workers’ compensation insurance when in reality none of these subcontractors or employees were affiliated with the shell companies. Investigators determined they were simply utilizing the shell company’s paperwork for a fee.
 
 The following co-defendants have been convicted:
 
- Marcelo F. Delima (Pompano Beach) WM South Florida Construction, Inc. – Ordered to pay $189,972.88 and has paid $25,000 to date.
- Geovani M. Oliveira (Coconut Creek) WM South Florida Construction, Inc. – Expected to be ordered to pay $166,272.63 upon sentencing.
- Marcio E. Silva (Boca Raton) WM South Florida Construction, Inc., ALD Construction, CRF Construction – Ordered to pay $107,607.37 and has paid $25,000 to date.
- Sergio Dondisch (Surfside) Hialeah First, LLC DBA Liquid Cash – Ordered to pay $275,000 and has paid in full.
 
Delima, Oliveira and Silva were convicted of Racketeering, Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering, Worker’s Compensation Fraud, Grand Theft, and Money Laundering.  Gloria, who has not been convicted, is facing those same charges as well as Filing False Currency Transaction Reports.  Dondisch was convicted of Filing False Currency Transaction Reports.
 
Dero William Viera remains a fugitive and is criminally liable for workers’ compensations premiums owed to FCBI, as well as thousands of dollars in fraudulent claims paid by FCBI. Additionally, the state will seek to have the fugitive forfeit in excess of $500,000, which is the minimal profit obtained from the criminal enterprise.
 
DFS was assisted during the course of the investigation in execution of search and arrest warrants by Broward and Palm Beach Counties’ Sheriffs Office’s, Miami-Dade Police Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
 
DFS investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance.  Depending on the estimated loss amount, the department will pay up to $25,000 for information directly leading to an arrest and conviction.
 
Anyone with information about this or any other suspected insurance fraud is asked to call the department’s Fraud Fighters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445 or log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com/fraud