Police Department gets check from IRS for $65,520.
By:Meg Learson Grosso , Staff Writer 04/01/2004
Joseph A. Galasso, Special Agent in charge of the Boston Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, presented a check for $66,520 to Alfred R. Fiore, Chief of the Westport Police Department, last Friday morning, saying the police "were really on the ball in this instance."

"This is the second time that the Westport Police department has brought an instance to our attention and it turned out well for us," continued Galasso. He said the first time was in the mid-'80s on a similar type of case involving the laundering of money through money orders.

The check from the IRS represents 80 percent of the funds that were forfeited by three people whom Westport police apprehended in August of 2001. Through the asset forfeiture program, the money was given to the Westport Police Department. Galasso noted that "Crime does pay for the Westport police. I'm sure Chief Fiore will put it to good use."

Galasso noted that the funds cannot be used for ordinary operating expenses, but must be used for something above and beyond that. Fiore said that the amount would, nonetheless, save Westport taxpayers money, since, whatever it is used for, the amount would otherwise have been requested from the Board of Finance.

Fiore thanked all the men and women from the IRS who worked on the case, including Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Sparkman and Special Agent Richard Schumacher, who were there when Galasso presented the check.

Galasso noted that the investigation was a joint effort of postal inspectors, the FBI and Westport police, and noted that if it hadn't been for the diligence of Westport police, they wouldn't have apprehended the perpetrators.

The investigation began on Aug. 11, 2001. Westport police responded to a report of two suspicious individuals with shopping bags. The individuals had been attempting to return merchandise to various stores with "suspicious" receipts. Upon investigation, the police discovered that the men had a large number of money orders. They notified the Internal Revenue Service.

The money orders were in amounts of approximately $700 each, totaling $77,700. The men also had about $4,200 in cash. The federal government requires that a report be filed on any money order over $3,000. The men were trying to avoid this reporting requirement by having many money orders in smaller amounts. Doing that is called "structuring," and it is illegal. Each of the accused was eventually indicted by a grand jury and each pled guilty to one count of structuring.

The convicted men were Guennadi Blokh, who was sentenced to 11 months in jail; Bogdan Neymeti, who was sentenced to 14 months in jail and 36 months probation; and Dainis Murnieks, sentended to 10 months in jail and 36 months probation.

©Westport Minuteman 2004

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