McALLEN — An employee of an unnamed local home health agency faces more than 20 charges related to money laundering and bank fraud, according to a recently unsealed and filed indictment.
Ramon Hiram Olivares is accused in a 23-count indictment filed May 8 of committing bank fraud, money laundering proceeds from drug trafficking, and lying to FBI agents about details of checks he deposited as an employee of a home health agency, court records show.
Beginning in 2012, and continuing until sometime in 2014, the 42-year-old man allegedly ran a scheme to defraud Wells Fargo to get money, funds and other “property” owned by Wells Fargo fraudulently, “by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises,” the 12-page indictment states.
Federal prosecutors allege that as part of the scheme, Olivares would obtain “personal identifying information” from one or more persons, specifically those primarily working or residing in Mexico, by telling them that the information would be used as part of the process to gain employment at the home health agency, which was not identified and referred to as the “Home Health Agency” in the indictment.
Olivares, a native of Mercedes, would receive checks made payable to individuals by his employer, the home health agency, for services purportedly rendered, but the individuals were not, nor had they ever been employed by or contracted with the agency, or “N.A.” — initials used to identify the agency’s owner in the indictment.
The government alleges that the individuals the checks were made payable to were unaware of any employment or contractor status with the agency or N.A., and had in fact never rendered the services or contract work purported, and had no knowledge of checks being made payable to them, the indictment stated.
Olivares would then allegedly forge the signatures of the aforementioned individuals and deposit the checks into Olivares’ bank account.
“It was further a part of the scheme and artifice to defraud that (Olivares) forged the signatures of the individuals to whom the checks were made payable in order to make it appear to Wells Fargo Bank that checks were properly endorsed by the payees,” the document stated. “…(Olivares) indicated on the checks that the checks were for deposit into defendant’s bank account at Wells Fargo Bank with an account number ending in ‘8522.’”
In order to not alarm the aforementioned individuals, Olivares approached several of these people to whom the checks were made payable to with a W-2 form, and would “represent” that they had not been removed from the agency’s payroll.
In one alleged instance of bank fraud, Olivares arranged for the deposit of check number 22072 made payable to “J.G.” from the Home Health Agency into a bank account shared by Olivares’ sister, “D.O.,” and “J.G.,” after which the deposited amount was withdrawn from the shared account in cash without the authorization of J.G.
“ It was further a part of the scheme and artifice to defraud that (Olivares) deposited approximately 69 checks made payable to individual J.G. in the total amount of approximately $135,500 into the 8522 Account,” the indictment states.
In addition to the bank fraud charges, Olivares is accused of laundering money generated from cocaine trafficking during a six-month span.
Between November 2013 and about May 2014, Olivares and an individual referred to as “(CC-1)” in the indictment, are alleged to have knowingly conspired to conduct or attempt to conduct financial transactions affecting interstate commerce and foreign commerce.
In or around 2013, CC-1 was engaged in illegal drug trafficking and received proceeds of illegal drug trafficking in the form of cash, and approached Olivares about exchanging cash for payroll checks from the agency.
Olivares allegedly provided CC-1 with disguised payroll checks from the agency made payable to CC-1 despite not being an employee.
The checks included false descriptions such as “pay period” and “payroll,” designed to conceal and disguise the nature of the checks. CC-1 would subsequently deposit the checks into his bank account.
“ In return for the disguised payroll checks, CC-1 provided Olivares with cash derived from illegal drug trafficking,” the document shows. “The disguised payroll checks provided CC-1 with what appeared to be a legitimate source of income.”
Federal prosecutors allege that Olivares, during a March 29 interview, lied to FBI agents when asked about CC-1, among other things.
He told agents that CC-1 was an employee of the agency, and that CC-1 provided marketing services agency.
As part of their case against Olivares, the government is also looking to seize $275,900 in property or other assets, the document stated.
On Tuesday, during an arraignment and detention hearing, Olivares pleaded not guilty to all 23 counts against him.
Additionally, during the hearing, the government presented one witness to testify to the investigation into Olivares, and recommended the court remand Olivares into custody without a bond.
The court ultimately agreed to grant him a $100,000 bond with a 10% cash deposit after Olivares’ attorney, Christopher Sully, argued against the denial of a bond.
Reached by phone, Sully declined to comment on the particulars of the case.
In addition to the bond, Olivares will have to follow the conditions set by the court, including surrendering of his passport, restricted travel relegated to Hidalgo and Starr counties, a GPS monitoring device, pretrial services supervision, no travel to Mexico, no contact with co-defendants and or witnesses, mental health evaluation or treatment as deemed necessary, no possession of weapons, to name a few.
As of Wednesday, Olivares remained in custody pending the payment of the $10,000 bond to the court, court records show.
Olivares is expected back before the court July 1 for a pretrial hearing, court notes show.