BR businessman sentenced to 6 years for bilking government out of $1.6M

BR businessman sentenced to 6 years for bilking government out of $1.6M
Federal Courthouse in Baton Rouge (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge businessman was sentenced to six years in prison for defrauding the government out of more than $1.6 million from a check scheme.

"Today's sentence is a stern reminder that participation in these schemes has dire consequences," said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Jerome R. McDuffie.

Carlos L. Linares, 56, was sentenced after a week-long federal trial from which he was found guilty. His charges include theft of government funds, failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, and two counts of obstruction of a federal proceeding.

Officials say Linares operated Latino Supermarket, LLC on Florida Blvd. At the store he cashed checks for a fee. From March 2012 through May 2013, Linares cashed more than 250 U.S. Treasury checks in which he was found guilty of knowing were fake.

The jury also found Linares guilty of failure to prevent his store from being used to launder money, facilitating criminal activity and attempting to obstruct justice by lying to investigators.

"I am deeply proud of today's result, the longest sentence to date in this operation, which should send a strong message that we expect small businesses in this district to play by the rules," said U.S. Attorney Walt Green.

Linares is the third defendant to be sentenced in connection with this investigation called Operation Checkmate. The other defendants include Albelk Reyes Serrata, 26, of Pennsylvania and Anyelina Reyes, 36, of Baton rouge

"Following his release from prison, if not deported, Linares will be required to serve a 2-year period of supervised release," officials wrote in a press release.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson served on this case.

Copyright 2016 WAFB. All rights reserved.