A Kalispell woman accused of transferring dirty money over the course of five years was arraigned on multiple laundering charges in federal court on May 4.
Theresa Anne Chabot, 57, faces charges of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, conspiracy to commit money laundering, 17 counts of money laundering promotion and 11 counts of money laundering spending. She pleaded not guilty to the 30-count indictment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen DeSoto in Missoula on May 4.
Prosecutors said that Chabot, starting in May 2016, began working with others to turn her unregistered money transmitting business — Avalanche Creek LLC — into what’s known as a money mule. Money mules, authorities said, transfer illegally acquired dollars on behalf of a third party. In return, they often receive commissions.
Allegedly taking dollars generated through a variety of cons, including internet fraud and advance pay, investment, romance, lottery and sweepstakes schemes, Chabot transferred the money overseas. Chabot often took about 10 percent of the transfer as a commission, prosecutors said.
Overseas landing spots for the dirty money included Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, court documents said.
During the course of her alleged operation, Chabot opened more than 50 bank accounts to facilitate the transfers. Many were closed after officials reviewed the activity on the accounts. At least 15 banks told Chabot they were closing her accounts owing to fraud, violation of internal policies and other misuse, prosecutors said. Those conversations failed to serve as a deterrent to Chabot, authorities said.
The FBI and IRS jointly investigated the case.
If convicted of the most serious of those charges, Chabot could spend 20 years behind bars and pay a $500,000 fine. She would undergo three years of supervised release pending the end of her prison stint.
News Editor Derrick Perkins can be reached at 758-4430 or firstname.lastname@example.org.