An operator of a beeper store in downtown Lakewood that was a focus of an investigation this year pleaded guilty Thursday to running a business that illegally sent millions of dollars across the country.
Operating out of Beepers Plus, at 428 Clifton Ave., Yisroel Malamud accepted money from customers, deposited that money into his own bank accounts and then transmitted the funds to third parties within the United States at the request of customers, according to U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman.
Investigators found that Malamud transmitted more than $3.5 million but less than $9.5 million from Beepers Plus.
Transmitting money without a license is a felony in New Jersey. Malamud faces up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. He will be sentenced on June 1.
According to property records, the store is owned by Este Holding LLC, but documents do not show the names of the owner or owners.
The company was not accused of any wrongdoing by the U.S. attorney.
By pleading guilty to running an unlicensed money-transmitting business, Malamud avoided further charges of “engaging in or conspiring to conduct a money laundering and money transmitting scheme,” according to the U.S. attorney.
That scheme is alleged to have taken place from January 2010 to about May 2013, federal documents claim.
In an investigation published this year, the Press found that Beepers Plus was used as a mail drop for nearly 300 different limited-liability companies that own hundreds of properties across New Jersey.
The store doesn’t sell many beepers anymore – about two a year, an employee said.
Signage on the front of the store advertises cellphones and copy services, among other offerings.
But its business is mailboxes.
The small store has a wall with dozens of silver mail slots think post office boxes that can be opened by key.
Many of the boxes at Beepers Plus are home to LLCs.
Mailbox 165 alone is home to more than a dozen LLCs, according to property records.
When a reporter went to the store last year, the two employees working who declined to give their names said they knew nothing about any of the companies that have mailboxes there.
None of the individual companies with mailboxes at Beepers Plus have been implicated.
A phone call to the store on Wednesday afternoon was met with an automated response.