Law enforcement officers are supposed to know the law. That’s obvious, but one former FBI agent remembered half the law about currency (cash) deposits to his regret.
Travis Wilson is a former Special Agent of the FBI. Agent Wilson liked to gamble, and played at the casinos in California, Arizona, Nevada, and West Virginia. There’s nothing wrong with that. He left the casinos some nights with more than $10,000. Agent Wilson didn’t want his superiors at the FBI to learn of his gambling habit. Of course, there’s nothing illegal about gambling. And if Agent Wilson was a poker player and kept a log, it might have made a nice supplement to his income. That said, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz is correct:
When a law enforcement agent conceals ongoing gambling activity it risks creating a security vulnerability. The DOJ OIG will partner with prosecutors and other investigative agencies to ensure that such conduct does not go unchecked within the Department of Justice.
So what was Agent Wilson to do? Deposit his cash, let his superiors know about his winning gambling habits? No, that would cause Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) to be issued, and he didn’t want them to know about the gambling. Perhaps stopping the gambling would have been a good idea. No, that didn’t happen. Well, why not make smaller deposits (less than $10,000) so that no CTR would be issued; that would stop all the problems. No CTRs and his superiors wouldn’t know.
There’s a problem here, and it’s one that Agent Wilson should have known about: 31 USC § 5324. That’s structuring, and that’s a felony. That’s when you deliberately make smaller deposits to evade financial reporting (such as CTRs). Banks are required to have programs in place to automatically generate Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). You may remember that SARs led to the downfall of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. And that’s almost certainly what happened here.
Agent Wilson should have known about structuring. But apparently he missed that lecture at the FBI Academy; instead, he’ll get some remedial education at ClubFed. He pleaded guilty to structuring $488,000 of deposits; he’s facing up to five years at ClubFed when he’s sentenced next March. He’s also a late nominee for the Tax Offender of the Year.