Valentin Bulgaru (33) of Audley Range, Blackburn, Lancashire, England, was arrested while in possession of over €100,000 in cash at The Square Shopping Centre, Tallaght, Dublin on July 31, 2021, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard. He pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering.
Garda Brian McDermott told Oisin Clarke BL, prosecuting, that on the day in question, Bulgaru was spotted by gardaí driving several times around the shopping centre car park before parking.
Gda McDermott said he saw Bulgaru doing something with an object in the passenger seat before going to the boot of the car. The court heard gardaí then approached Bulgaru and questioned him on what he was doing.
Bulgaru told Gda McDermott that there was €104,905 in cash in a plastic bag in the passenger seat and said he was using it to buy a truck in Belgium.
Bulgaru was arrested and interviewed, the court heard. He has been in custody since his arrest last year.
Rónán Prendergast BL, defending, told the court that Bulgaru, who is originally from Romania, has been living in the UK for one or two years working as a truck driver with a truck company in his name.
He told gardaí he got involved in a criminal gang and ran up a debt of €9,000. He agreed to carry out the money laundering job in order to pay €3,500 off his debt.
He has very few ties to Ireland and was in the country only to collect the money and bring it to the UK, the court heard.
Mr Prendergast said Bulgaru has been doing voluntary work in prison and undergoing a first aid training program.
He has a wife and a seven-year-old child currently residing in Romania and he will move back in with his family after serving his sentence, the court herd.
Judge Pauline Codd sentenced Bulgaru to four years with the last two years suspended on a number of conditions. She gave him 10 days to leave Ireland after he has served his sentence.
Judge Codd told the court Bulgaru travelled solely to commit this crime and “deal with the worst type” of criminals. “There has to be a deterrent to this type of criminality,” she said as she handed down sentence.
The judge further restricted Bulgaru from entering Ireland for the next five years unless he is called back to the jurisdiction.