U.S authorities have arrested a Brazilian man named Cleber Rene Rizerio Rocha, and authorities discovered $17 million hidden under a mattress in a house in Westborough, Massachusetts, USA. Celeber has pleaded guilty in a Boston federal court to trying to launder funds linked to one of the biggest pyramid schemes ever.
Prosecutors say Cleber Rocha tried to help get money out of the United States that a co-founder of the pyramid scheme TelexFree Inc. left behind in the U.S after he fled the country.
He pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges and is awaiting his sentence on sentenced on Dec. 7. The charges brought against him each carry up to 20 years imprisonment, but prosecutors have recommended a 40-month term based on the suspect’s cooperation.
The arrest of Cleber was a fallout from an investigation of TelexFree inc., which was founded by James Merill a US citizen and a Brazilian Carlos Wanzeler.The company is Massachusetts-based and sold voice-over-internet telephone service.
TelexFree is said to be a pyramid scheme, which made making little to no money selling its products and service while on the other hand collecting millions of dollars from a lot of people who paid to sign up to be “promoters” and post ads online for it.
The scheme collapsed in 2014, leaving more than $3 billion in losses on almost 1.89 million people worldwide, prosecutors said.One of the founders, Merill was arrested in 2014 and sentenced to 6 years in prison after a guilty plea to fraud charges and conspiracy, while Wanzeler fled to Brazil in 2014 and cannot be extradited.He left behind millions of dollars which Cleber is now trying to launder.
Leonardo Casula Francisco, Wanzeler’s nephew in 2015, asked someone who later cooperated as a witness with authorities, to assist in transfering cash gotten from TelexFree which Wanzeler had hidden in Boston, USA. The two men then agreed to send someone to the United States to deliver the money in parts to the witness, who would then send it to accounts in Hong Kong from where it will be transferred to Brazil.
Leonardo Casula sent Rocha to the United States In December to deliver the money to the witness.On January 4th Cleber gave $2.2M to the witness in a parking lot, and detectives trailed him to a Westborough, Massachusetts, apartment complex, where $17 million hidden under a mattress was discovered.