Fruit factory workers acting as money mules given suspended sentences

The money laundering was being carried out by a West African gang
Fruit factory workers acting as money mules given suspended sentences

Isabel Hayes

Six fruit factory workers who became money mules and helped to launder hundreds of thousands of Euro between them have been given suspended sentences.

The four men and two women were all working at Keelings Fruit when they were each enlisted by an unnamed man, referred to in court as a “money mule herder”, to allow their bank accounts to be used for the proceeds of crime, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Monday.

The money laundering was being carried out by a West African gang, Garda Jennifer Connolly told Diana Stuart BL, prosecuting. The alleged money mule herder is still before the courts.

The offending took place on dates between 2016 and 2017 and the men and women pleaded guilty to laundering money ranging in amounts from €4,500 to just under €110,000. They were paid varying amounts of money ranging from a few hundred Euros to €10,000 for allowing their accounts to be used.

Sentencing them on Monday, Judge Martin Nolan said the six defendants were extremely useful to the money launderers in allowing their accounts to be used. The judge said it was one of the easier ways to make a living from crime.

He noted all six came to Ireland from different countries to make some money. “They worked at Keelings and no doubt that was tough physical work,” the judge said.

The judge took into account a number of mitigating factors including the fact that none of the accused have previous convictions, they all cooperated with gardaí and are considered unlikely to reoffend. He handed down suspended sentences ranging from 18 months to three and a half years.

Albert Joseph (38) with an address at College Manor, Hoeys Lane, Dundalk, Co Louth pleaded guilty to two counts of money laundering €34,236 and €25,575 on dates in June 2016. The court heard he laundered a total amount of €109,000. He was given a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence.

Josip Vlahovic (33) with an address at Beaumont Crescent, Beaumont, Dublin, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering just over €79,000 on dates in June 2016. He was given a two-and-a-half year suspended sentence.

Toni Kudro (33) with an address at Main Street, Blanchardstown, Dublin pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering €8869 on dates in September 2017. The court heard he laundered just under €36,000. He was given a suspended two-and-a-half year sentence.

Mate Vlahovic (41) with an address at Berwick Drive, Swords, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering €6,760 on dates in September 2017. He was given an 18 month suspended sentence.

Krisztina Baradlai (29) with an address at The Old Rectory, Collon, Co Louth, pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering €5,900 on September 18, 2017. She was given an 18 month suspended sentence.

Claudia Onofrieciuc (39) with an address at Premier Square, Glasnevin, Dublin pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering €4,592 on March 20, 2017. She was also given an 18 month suspended sentence.

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