Edmond P. LaFrance, 70, pleaded guilty on Thursday to an indictment charging him with two counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
From 2012 to 2013, LaFrance solicited investments and loans for a shell company he created, Natural Waters, that fraudulently claimed to buy and sell mineral water in bulk. In fact, there were no mineral water sales and a large portion of the investor money LaFrance received was directed to his own uses or transferred to co-conspirators. The indictment further charged that around 2015, LaFrance laundered money for various online fraud schemes being perpetrated by individuals located primarily outside of the United States. LaFrance allegedly accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from victims he did not know, and with whom he had no business relationship, and wired the money to third parties whose true identities were concealed from the victims.
In 1990, LaFrance was convicted in federal court of structuring currency transactions, making false statements and conspiring to defraud the United States. In 2007, he was convicted a second time of wire fraud and making false statements.
The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and restitution. The charge of money laundering provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $500,000 and restitution. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.