San Ysidro

The owner of a currency exchange was sentenced Monday to two years in jail and fined $244,718 for his involvement in a money-laundering scheme. Prosecutors claimed that nearly $16 million filtered through the man's money exchange business.

Patrick Ernest Solarzano-Wizer, 26, owner of Casa Blanca Money Exchange in San Ysidro, was sentenced for failing to report cash transactions of $10,000 or more to the U.S. Treasury.

An 89-count indictment, handed down Dec. 18, also accused Solarzano-Wizer of making false statements to federal agents and concealing material facts. He pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to report large transactions.

Under his plea-bargain agreement, Solarzano-Wizer will keep $80,000 of a disputed $712,500 seized by the government on Oct. 21. The rest of the cash will go to pay his fine and to the IRS, Assistant U.S. Atty. Barry Ted Moskowitz said.

The federal government requires the reports on large cash transactions as a means of monitoring crime profits.

A federal judge placed Solarzano-Wizer on five years' probation, which will begin after he finishes his jail sentence.

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