S.A. Man Accused in Money Scheme! 

S.A. Man Accused in Money Scheme! 
Posted by FoM on February 26, 1999 at 08:10:06 PT

A 71-year-old San Antonio businessman was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday in connection with an elaborate money-laundering scheme. 
Robert Edward Montalvo was one of four men charged in what authorities said was a plot to hide what they believed were drug profits. The money came from FBI agents posing as drug smugglers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Surovic said. Described by his lawyer as a real estate investor, Montalvo is charged with seven counts of money laundering plus one count of conspiring to launder money. He faces as much as 20 years in prison on each count if convicted. Federal prosecutors said Montalvo moved $56,560 into San Antonio banks, believing it was illicit cash. It was earmarked as down payments for tractor equipment. They also claim Montalvo led undercover agents to three Reynosa men, who then allegedly moved about $370,000 of so-called drug money between unwitting banks in El Paso, McAllen, Miami and the Bahamas. Montalvo's attorney, Roy Barrera Sr., said he was not certain how his client would plead. Barrera said undercover agents first approached Montalvo to lease some of his land. Once they paid the rent, the agents claimed they wanted to store truckloads of marijuana on the land, he said. Barrera conceded his client turned his head and eventually was drawn in by the agents. Barrera, however, would not discuss the extent of Montalvo's involvement except to characterize it as "small potatoes." "He just appears to have gotten suckered in his old age into getting into something over his head," Barrera said. "Unfortunately, he bit the bait." The 26-page indictment states the conspiracy began in June when FBI Special Agent Arturo Vela told Montalvo he was a drug trafficker in need of a way to sneak his profits into U.S. banks. Montalvo started small, laundering the first $6,000 in early June, the indictment charges. The scheme grew quickly, reaching $23,960 before the month ended, according to the indictment. Surovic would not comment on why the task force targeted Montalvo. In July, prosecutors claim, Montalvo led the agents to the three Mexicans claiming they could launder as much as $400,000. Miguel Angel Salazar Rubalcava, 30, Ismael Deleon Zuniga, 41, and Artemio Salazar Macias, 62, are charged with conspiring to launder money and with three counts of money laundering. They also face as much as 20 years in prison on each charge if convicted. Police officers arrested the trio last week in McAllen, where they remained in custody Thursday, Surovic said. Montalvo was arrested in San Antonio and released on bond, Barrera said. The 10-month undercover operation was conducted by the multi-agency Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Force. 
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