New Jersey Dealer Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge

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A New Jersey motorcycle dealer is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to federal money laundering charges, according to published reports.

Brian F. Monaghan of Berkeley, who owned custom shop American Built Motorcycles in South Toms River, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering before Judge Joel Pisano in U.S. District Court in Trenton, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Frazer told the Asbury Park Press.

The guilty plea resulted from an undercover investigation by Internal Revenue Service agents. Undercover IRS agents went to the shop to buy a bike and told Monaghan and his sales manager, Robert Cantalupo of Toms River, that they intended to make the purchase with drug money, authorities said in 2005, the Press reported.

According to an arrest press release from the U.S. Attorney's office, "In recorded conversations with Monaghan and Cantalupo, the undercover agents told them they did not want the funds to be traceable to them since the money was obtained through illegal means. Monaghan and Cantalupo said they understood and then allegedly offered a method to obscure the source of the cash — by structuring small deposits into the bike shop's bank account — and to hide the identity of the buyer of the motorcycle — by using a third-party's identity on purchase and registration documents."

Monaghan's attorney, Lawrence S. Lustberg, told the Press his client was "pleased that he was able to reach a fair disposition of the case with the U.S. Attorney's Office, and he looks forward to what he hopes will be a just and merciful sentence." The money laundering charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

According to the criminal complaint:

An undercover IRS agent went to the motorcycle shop in April 2005 and met with Cantalupo, who said, "We know how to handle cash," and explained that large sums could be broken down into small ones oto skirt a law requiring financial institutions to report cash deposits of more than $10,000.

Cantalupo told the undercover agents the shop did it all the time, and he "just did it on Saturday."

The undercover agents gave Cantalupo $43,615 for the motorcycle, but bank records showed the cash deposits were made several days apart, each totaling between $7,000 and $9,900. "Bank records revealed numerous other structured cash deposits. Between April 2003 and July 29, 2005, according to the criminal complaint, American Built Motorcycles made structured cash deposits under $10,000 totaling approximately $1.13 million," the press release said.

Cantalupo has pleaded guilty to structuring deposits so they would fall under the $10,000 reporting requirement, authorities said. He has not yet been sentenced.

Monaghan is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 18.