BOSTON (WWLP) – A Rhode Island man and the owner of a “virtual CFO” business has been charged and pleaded guilty to laundering tens of millions of dollars from internet fraud schemes.
Craig Clayton, 73, of Cranston, RI, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count of obstruction of justice. Clayton was previously arrested and charged with a crime.
According to charging documents, Clayton used his accounting and virtual CFO business, Rochart Consulting, to launder internet fraud proceeds from 2019 to 2021. In the conspiracy, Clayton opened business bank accounts in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to launder the proceeds of internet fraud schemes on behalf of his clients. More than $35 million was allegedly laundered by Clayton.
One of Clayton’s Rochart co-conspirators allegedly told him they were “money mules complicit in Rochart’s clients’ crimes.” Clayton allegedly sought “dirt” on a victim who reported the fraud scheme in encrypted communications with one of his client co-conspirators to distract police.
Clayton allegedly told investigators and bank personnel that his shell companies were legitimate businesses, among other things, when banks and law enforcement started investigating Rochart. When Clayton learned a federal grand jury was investigating him, he allegedly tried to obstruct the investigation by lying to federal agents. Clayton has agreed to forfeit more than $330,000 and a Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle he bought as part of the money laundering conspiracy.
Conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $500,000 or twice the proceeds, whichever is greater. An obstruction of justice charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. A federal district court judge imposes sentences based on the US Sentencing Guidelines and the statutes that govern criminal sentences.
The Court hasn’t scheduled a plea hearing yet for Clayton.