A former Valley grocery store owner has been sentenced for running a $10 million money order fraud scheme out of his Chandler grocery store.
U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow sentenced Gjergj Kol Mihilli, 61, of Gilbert to 51 months in prison and ordered him to pay $302,420.
Gjergj Kol Mihilli pleaded guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft and his two sons, Nikolas George Mihilli, 35, and Nino Joseph Mihilli, 31, also pleaded guilty to related charges.
The 46-count indictment alleges that the three men operated a money order fraud scheme from the Mama Mia Panaderia & Market in Chandler. The business contracted with Merchants Bank of California in order to sell the bank's Unigram money orders.
Over a two-year period the trio issued thousands of false, worthless money orders, utilizing fictitious names. These false money orders were then deposited into a Wells Fargo business account, which artificially inflated the account balance, so that funds were made available to pay Merchants Bank for issuing the money orders.
The indictment alleges that the defendants issued and deposited more than 10,000 false money orders totaling approximately $10 million.
An extensive joint investigation was completed by multiple federal and state agencies including the Chandler Police Department, ICE Homeland Security Investigations and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.
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