PITTSBURGH — On March 12, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania, announced a resident of San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, following a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations.
Lancelot De Montsegur, aka Patrice Berthome, 38, was named in a one-count Indictment, returned on Feb. 19, as the as the sole defendant. He faces a maximum total sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1,000,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
The fraud involved establishing shell corporations and web sites associated with the shell companies that falsely claimed that they sold a product other than designer drugs, kratom, or CBD oil. The conspirators then applied for PayPal, Stripe, Square, or merchant accounts from the credit card companies in the names of the shell corporations and the fake web sites. Once the accounts were established, they were used to process payments for designer drugs, kratom, or CBD oil. Additionally, the conspirators arranged for the credit card statements sent to the consumers to have the names of the shell corporations and telephone numbers. The conspirators set up a telephone bank to receive calls from customers questioning billings on their credit card statements, and the conspirators explained to the customers the true nature of the transactions in hopes of avoiding charge-backs that could cause the credit card companies to question the legitimacy of the transactions.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Assistant United States Attorneys Brendan T. Conway and Jeffrey R. Bengel are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.