The U.S. government filed charges yesterday against a lawyer for taking $184,947.49 in proceeds from a fraudulent Citibank cashier's check.
Danilo T. Aguilar is being accused of two counts of laundering of monetary instruments.
The U.S. District Court for the NMI summoned Aguilar to appear in court on Aug. 26, 2010 at 9:30am.
Saipan Tribune contacted Aguilar yesterday to get his side but a staff at his office said he is in Guam. The lawyer had not called back as of press time.
Special agent Shaun Morita of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation stated in his affidavit that Aguilar had admitted, in substance, to willingly taking the proceeds of the fraudulent cashier's check and authorizing distribution of the funds.
Morita said that Aguilar confessed during a May 19, 2010, meeting with his attorney, Peter Perez Jr., assistant U.S. attorney Eric O'Malley, and U.S. Secret Service special agents.
Morita said that, according to Aguilar, he panicked once the Bank of Guam froze his bank accounts and immediately began withdrawing funds from First Hawaiian Bank to cover business and personal expenses.
Morita said Aguilar admitted receiving the fraudulent cashier's check in the mail.
The lawyer allegedly claimed he knew it was wrong not to return the funds as the Bank of Guam requested, but he was not thinking properly at the time.
Morita said the scheme began on March 13, 2009, when Aguilar directed his employee, Rolan D. Bautista, to deposit a cashier's check-purportedly drawn on a Citibank account amounting to $298,960-into a Bank of Guam business checking account. Bautista did this at the Bank of Guam's branch in Upper Tumon, Guam.
Bank of Guam placed a hold on the funds for 11 business days, then released the funds on March 31, 2009, into Aguilar's Bank of Guam account.
On April 1, 2009, Bautista purchased cashier's check number 826803 from the Bank of Guam branch in Hagatna, Guam.
Morita said the cashier's check number was purchased with a check written from Aguilar's law offices' Bank of Guam account, in the amount of $236,766, made payable to Aguilar's law offices.
Additionally, Bautista cashed a check written from Aguilar's law offices' Bank of Guam account in the amount of $55,792.
On April 2, 2009, the Bank of Guam cashier's check number 826803 was deposited into a First Hawaiian Bank money market checking account at its Tamuning branch. The FHB account is held under Aguilar's law offices.
Morita said that, on May 14, 2009, the counterfeit Citibank cashier's check was returned by the Federal Reserve Bank because of an “invalid routing number”; it was later confirmed by Citibank to be a fraudulent check.