South Florida Man Sues Wells Fargo After He Was Arrested, Jailed for Crime He Didn't Commit

Carlos Gomez claims in his lawsuit that the bank falsely told investigators that money was laundered through an account opened by him

By Ari Odzer
|  Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013  |  Updated 8:01 PM EDT
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Carlos Gomez lived through a nightmare after he was arrested and accused by federal authorities of money laundering in 2011. Now Gomez, who was eventually exonerated, has filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo seeking damages for the bank’s alleged role in his ordeal. He and his lawyers Eric Hernandez and Jermaine Lee spoke about the case, while the bank addressed it in a written statement.

Carlos Gomez lived through a nightmare after he was arrested and accused by federal authorities of money laundering in 2011. Now Gomez, who was eventually exonerated, has filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo seeking damages for the bank’s alleged role in his ordeal. He and his lawyers Eric Hernandez and Jermaine Lee spoke about the case, while the bank addressed it in a written statement.

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Carlos Gomez lived through a nightmare – accused by federal authorities of money laundering, taken away from his house at five in the morning, and tossed into jail for two weeks.

"It could happen to anybody, it just happened to me," he warns.

Gomez recounted the events that shook him in 2011.

"Guns in my face, telling me get on the floor, get on the floor, put your hands behind your back, all I can say is what's going on, what happened, everything is just a big blur at this time," he said.

Said Gomez’s lawyer Eric Hernandez, “Imagine going to jail, not knowing any of the co-conspirators, not knowing anything of what's going on, not knowing whether you're going to see your daughter again."

"It's exactly like ‘The Twilight Zone,’" Hernandez said.

Now Gomez has filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo Bank seeking damages for its alleged role in his ordeal.

According to the suit, which was filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida, the feds arrested a Wells Fargo Bank employee and his grandmother for stealing $1.2 million. Wells Fargo, the lawsuit claims, falsely told investigators the money was laundered through an account opened by former customer Carlos Gomez.

"So someone opened an account under Carlos' name, right? Carlos' last transaction with this bank was in 2002, someone opened an account in 2005 under his name, and here's the scary part, there's no proof of anything from Carlos to open this account," said Jermaine Lee, a second lawyer representing Gomez in his lawsuit.

Lee says the bank missed obvious red flags. A bank employee, he says, actually noted that the account appeared to be fraudulent and nothing was done. Then there's the matter of Gomez's banking history with the bank.

"The most money he had in this account, the accounts he had, was 500 dollars. This fake account that was opened under his name? The deposit was $135,000! And it didn't ring any bells, no one noticed," said Lee.

"It destroyed me, actually," Gomez said, recalling the ordeal.

His life was unraveling, especially when the gravity of the charges hit him.

"This is a big case, this is really serious, you're looking at 20 years in jail, so at that time, it just feels like, the wall just caved in on me," Gomez said, choking back tears.

A stroke of luck saved Gomez: in a shoebox, he found his old bank card and statements from First Union, which preceded Wells Fargo, and proved his innocence. Prosecutors dropped all charges, but only after Gomez served eight months of house arrest.

Now he wants justice through the courts.

"Bitterness, anger, how does such a big entity allow something like this to happen to someone who has basically never done anything?" Gomez wonders.

Wells Fargo sent a written statement to NBC 6.

"We are aware of Mr. Gomez's complaint and we are in the process of reviewing it. We will respond to his complaint in a timely manner,” the bank said.

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