Structuring cash, (a.k.a. smurfing), is one thing to look for when spouses hide money during their divorces in community property states. US Treasury Department’s FinCEN explains structuring occurs if you “break up…currency transactions [at banks] into multiple, smaller amounts to avoid being reported to the government.”1 This means organizing cash transactions beneath the $10,000 threshold banks have to file a Currency Transaction Report with FinCEN. Furthermore, structuring can involve: cash deposits, cash withdrawals, exchanges of currency, currency from a foreign country, etc. Structuring is also a federal crime as set forth at 31 U.S.C. Section 5324.

USA v. White involved the prosecution of a divorcing husband who hid money from his wife in a scheme involving structuring. In USA v. White, Paul A. White apparently hid $99,900 in cash from his wife at the time of their 2017 Nebraska divorce. Mr. White accumulated this cash in 2016 by selling firearms, military memorabilia and other goods. Mr. White who was an Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives Bureau Special Agent, hid the cash in a safe at his Omaha, NE office. Meanwhile, Mr. White was obligated to disclose the $99,900 to his wife during the couple’s divorce. This was true, even though Nebraska is not one of the community property states.

After Mr. White’s divorce was finalized in 2018, Mr. White structured the $99,900 by making deposits in smaller amounts at UMB and another bank. From October 29, 2018 to February 26, 2019, Mr. White divided the $99,900 into 14 cash deposits, each below $10,000. Since the deposits were below $10,000, the banks did not report Mr. White to FinCEN by filing Currency Transaction Reports. Mr. White admitted to the foregoing at his September 14, 2021 plea agreement. During Mr White’s allocution at his September 14, 2021 Change of Plea Hearing, the Court and the federal prosecutor asked Mr. White about his above-mentioned structuring scheme. To listen to Mr. White’s September 14th allocution, click the play button on the player available here.

1FinCEN’s Educational Pamphlet on the Currency Transaction Reporting Requirement

Video: AndreyPopov /

Copyright 2023 Fred L. Abrams