OCALA, Fla. - Andrew D. Lemine, 54, of Paisley, Fla., pled guilty on May 27 to one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
Lemine is the owner of Sorrento Grocery in Sorrento, Fla. Although he did not have a license from the State of Florida to operate as a money transmitter, Lemine cashed approximately $4 million in checks at his store between Jan. 1, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2008, from employees of a local construction company, John Trubenbach Construction (JTC).
He cashed these checks in exchange for a fee of between 1 and 1.5 percent and did so with the knowledge that the owners of the construction company were attempting to conceal their employment of illegal aliens, avoid paying workers' compensation and employment taxes, and hide income from state and federal tax officials.
Lemine agreed to forfeit to the United States $690,068.13 that agents had seized from a bank account he controlled.
"This successful investigation was the result of the cooperation and partnerships with state and local law enforcement," said Sue McCormick, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Tampa.
The construction company was investigated by the state. Its owner has pleaded guilty to state charges of workers' compensation fraud.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel W. Eckhart.