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Lito Lapid's Wife Sentenced In US Court Over Illegal Cash

13 Feb 2013

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Marssa Tadeo Lapid and husband Senator Lito Lapid in a campaign photo  

LAS VEGAS – The wife of a sitting senator in the Philippines has been sentenced to five months of home confinement and 36 months' probation after pleading guilty to charges of bulk cash smuggling resulting from a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Marissa Tadeo Lapid, 55, wife of Philippines Senator Manuel "Lito" Lapid, was sentenced Feb. 4 by U.S. District Court Judge Lloyd D. George. The defendant previously pleaded guilty to two counts contained in a criminal information – bulk cash smuggling and conspiracy to structure transactions to evade reporting requirements. In addition to the term of home confinement and probation, the court also ordered Marissa Lapid to pay a fine of $40,000 and forfeit $199,700 in funds found to be derived from the scheme.

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The gates of the Lapid family home in Porac, Pampanga; a US judge has told Marissa Lapid she must serve out her sentence of house arrest and probation in the US. Photo Credit: Ramon F Velasquez 

"Bulk cash smuggling is a serious crime motivated by greed," said Michael Harris, assistant special agent in charge for HSI Las Vegas. "HSI will continue to target those who seek to exploit vulnerabilities in our financial systems in order to earn, move and store their illegitimate gains."

Lapid originally came under suspicion in November 2010 when she failed to declare $40,000 in currency following her arrival at McCarran International Airport on a flight from the Philippines. According to court documents, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers subsequently found the money in Lapid's luggage inside two socks and a cloth bag concealed under the suitcase's lining.

HSI's subsequent investigation revealed that, from January 2009 through June 2010, Lapid conspired with others to make 23 cash deposits of under $10,000 at multiple banks in the Las Vegas area, often on the same day, knowing the banks were obligated to report cash transactions of more than $10,000. In all, the defendant structured $159,700 in deposits.

Structured payments of less than $10,000 are normally used to conceal transactions of cash. The US HSI have since 9/11 stepped up checks on possible money laundering.

The fact that Marissa Lapid is the wife of politician of a family dynasty in the Philippines will not have gone unnoticed in America. 

HSI special agents arrested Marissa Lapid at McCarran International Airport Jan. 15, 2012, following her arrival on a flight from the Philippines.  

Mrs Lapid deposited a total of $159,700, according to HSI officials.

The judge denied Lapid’s request to serve her sentence in the Philippines and ordered her to serve out her term in the US.

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