Christian Lee Hancock and Tina Inez Schneider of Riverview were convicted by a Tampa federal jury earlier this month of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering and structuring financial transactions to evade currency transaction reporting requirements.
There were several alleged co-conspirators who previously pled guilty for their roles in these activities.
Hancock was president and Schneider was vice president of Gator Core Inc., a secondary metal recycling company. Federal prosecutors accused them of conspiring to steal hundreds of tractor-trailer loads of used auto batteries between 2006 and 2009. The batteries were allegedly intended for lead smelters at Envirofocus Technologies. Hancock and Schneider purportedly falsified records to conceal the thefts of 8 million pounds of batteries, resulting in a loss of nearly $3.4 million to Envirofocus and Johnson Controls.
The batteries were then re-sold through Gator Core, according to court documents, for a substantial profit. Law enforcement also charged Hancock and Schneider with conducting financial transactions with those profits in violation of federal money laundering and structuring laws.
Federal law requires banks to file a currency transaction report for transaction of more than $10,000 in currency. “Structuring” includes the act of parceling what would otherwise be a $10,000+ financial transaction into a series of smaller transactions to avoid scrutiny by regulators or law enforcement. (Financial institutions suspecting deposit structuring with intent to avoid the law are required to file a suspicious activity report anyway).
The case was investigated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service. Hancock and Schneider each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Sentencing will be held in early 2012.