New Jersey Supreme Court extends money laundering statute of limitations

The New Jersey Supreme Court, in a 6-0 majority decision, has expanded the statute of limitations for money laundering crimes to five years. This decision applies to cases where the evidence points to a financial scheme that has been long-running, with the five years beginning at the date of the final offense. The previous statute of limitation was three years, which was deemed inadequate by the state justices.

The ruling was issued against the case of a Monmouth County man, Joseph Diorio, who was recently convicted for running a years-long con on produce supplies and then illegally laundering the money. Diorio and his business partners gained the trust of produce supplies in 2000 by making small buys from them. Once the good credit with the companies had been established, Diorio and his accomplices placed huge orders and never paid the supplies back, defrauding 14 produce companies out of nearly $2 million.

Diorio was eventually caught by the FBI and convicted in 2008, but during his appeal his lawyers argued that the charges could not stick because he was indicted too late in 2005, when the statute of limitations had already expired. In the Supreme Court's ruling, they wrote that the theft by deception indictment did indeed come four days too late, but the money laundering charges fell well within five years, and upheld Diorio's conviction and prison sentence.

"The evidence adduced at trial demonstrates that every act taken by defendant and his business associates was to further the single scheme that produced on-going harm to a targeted group of victims," Judge Mary Catherine Cuff wrote in the decision.

The court broke new legal ground by declaring money laundering a continuous offense, despite other federal rulings claiming otherwise.

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