LOS ANGELES — A Santa Ana tax preparer was convicted by a federal court jury Monday of trying to launder $6.6 million in stolen and forged checks through his own bank accounts and those of his clients.
Richard Robin Harris, 60, was convicted on 32 counts of mail and bank fraud and interstate transportation of forged checks arising from a forged and counterfeit check scheme, the U.S. attorney's office announced.
He faces up to 230 years in prison and a fine of $4.6 million when he is sentenced Sept. 26 by U.S. District Judge Richard Gadbois.
Harris used his tax preparation and financial planning businesses, through his and his clients' bank accounts, to try to launder 30 stolen and forged corporate checks, six counterfeited Chicago Title Insurance Co. checks and two counterfeited Mercury Savings & Loan checks worth a total of $6.6 million, said Gary Feess, chief assistant U.S. attorney.
A little more than $1 million was lost through Harris' attempts to cash the checks over a five-year period that began in February, 1983, Feess said.
Harris would offer to loan money to clients for investment opportunities at a particular interest rate and/or a cut of the profits. For example, he made one loan for a marine salvage operation at 14% interest plus 25% of the profits, Feess said.
Then Harris would deposit counterfeit or forged out-of-state checks he got from other co-conspirators into the client's account, telling the client the money came from legitimate sources, Feess said.
Usually an amount greater than the loan was deposited, and Harris would ask the client to return the difference, depositing the client's good check into one of his own accounts before the banks detected the forged and counterfeited checks in the client's account, Feess said.
Prosecutors have not been able to find out who provided Harris with the forged and counterfeited checks, Feess said.