Bank Deposits

Inside the Law: Can 'structuring' lead to legal trouble? Bank on it

June 18, 2018 - 3:15 am

By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions​

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- What's structuring and why is it illegal? 

When Willie Sutton was asked why he robs banks, he famously said: because that's where the money is. 

That's also where the regulations are, not just for robbers who want to take other people's money, but for people who want to deposit their own money and it's a lesson one Lancaster, Pennsylvania man learned the hard way. 

The man, who had kept his $541,100 life savings in a safe in his house decided to put the money in the bank. But the man knew if he deposited more than $10,000, he'd have to fill out paperwork with the government. So he made 58 separate deposits (because that was easier?). The bank caught on and he was charged with 58 counts of violating a law that makes it illegal to conduct financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements.  

He was convicted on all 58 counts, sentenced to two to ten years in jail, and was assessed a penalty of $540,200, all but $900 of his entire life savings. 

So the lesson that he and Willie Sutton now know is that the bank might be where the money is, but the jail is where you'll be if you are trying to get around the law.