CINNAMINSON —A consulting firm served as the hub of a multi-million dollar scheme meant to hide funds intended for construction company workers in the country illegally, authorities said.

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina on Monday announced the results of a months-long investigation centering on MAIA Consulting. Coffina said the investigation started in November last year, when police suspected a check cashing operation was being run out of the Route 130 location.

According to Coffina, multiple construction companies along the east coast were part of the plan. He said those involved worked together to hide payments being made to their respective undocumented workers. He said the transactions started as early as 2015, and that "up to $100 million" had been laundered during that time.

Using shell companies, Coffina said, the people involved in the scheme would deposit and withdraw money from various accounts to make it look like they were part of legitimate business operations. He said it was also done to "mask the identities of the recipients."

"This is not a victimless crime," Coffina said. "These illegal financial transactions have increased the costs of construction in our area, deprived multiple government bodies of needed tax revenue, and placed some of our most vulnerable construction workers at peril from injuries that occur on the job."

Coffina announced that three people have been arrested for their alleged role in the operation. MAIA Consulting owner Renato Maia Da Silva, 51, Wesley Dos Santos, 33, of Palmyra and Lucas Alves, 34 were all charged with first-degree money laundering.

Search warrants were executed at all three residences, Coffina said, and authorities have confiscated close to $450,000 in cash, nine vehicles, three motorcycles, and 30 high-end watches. Among the cars seized was a fully restored 1967 Pontiac CP Tempest GTO, Coffina said.

Da Silva was arrested at the business, while Dos Santos and Alves were arrested at their homes, Coffina said.

Coffina said all three are in this country illegally and are Brazilian citizens. He said their cases are being investigated by the US Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The investigation is ongoing and Coffina said more arrests are anticipated. He encouraged anyone with information about the case to call 609-265-5035.

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