Local business owner pleads guilty to currency structuring

Jae Hee Yang, owner Tip Top Nails, Inc. in Old Greenwich, has pleaded guilty to one count of federal currency structuring and one count of employing an unauthorized alien.

The plea was announced last week by David Fein, United States attorney for the District of Connecticut. Federal law requires all financial institutions to file a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) for currency transactions that exceed $10,000. To evade the filing of a CTR, business owners often structure their currency transactions so that no single transaction exceeds that amount. Structuring involves the repeated depositing or withdrawal of amounts of cash less than the $10,000 limit, or the splitting of a cash transaction that exceeds $10,000 into smaller cash transactions in an effort to avoid the reporting requirements. Even if the deposited funds are derived from a legitimate means, financial transactions conducted in this manner are still in violation of federal criminal law.

Ms. Yang pled guilty to violating these regulations.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Ms. Yang is the sole owner of Tip Top Nails, Inc. Between May and September 2009, she reportedly made 15 cash withdrawals in increments ranging from $4,000 to $8,000 that ended up totaling $100,000 from a bank in New Jersey where she maintained a business checking account.

The money was generated from the operation of her nail salon. Mr. Fein said that at the time this was happening, Ms. Yang knew that the bank was required to issue a report for a currency transaction in excess of $10,000, and that by conducting her financial transactions in amounts less than $10,001, she intended to evade the transaction reporting requirements.

Additionally Ms. Yang admitted that between May and September 2009 she employed a person at Tip Top Nails who was an unauthorized alien not permitted to work in the United States.

In pleading guilty, Ms. Yang admitted that her salon employed other unauthorized aliens, paid the aliens in cash rather than check as it did with legal employees, and drove them between New York and Greenwich daily. She has also agreed to forfeit the $100,000 she structured.

Ms. Yang is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief United States District Judge Alvin W. Thompson on Nov. 20, at which time she faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five and one-half years and a fine of up to $250,000.

The matter was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division and the case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Peter S. Jongbloed.

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