A Brazilian man accused of trying to hide nearly $20 million in cash inside a box spring under his mattress in his Boston-area apartment remains behind bars after being denied bail.

Cleber Rene Rizerio Rocha, who is charged with Money Laundering, was in federal court on Monday where a judge denied him bail, ruling that he was a flight risk. The 28-year-old Rocha has been in custody since Jan. 4 when federal agents said they followed him to his apartment in Westborough, a small town about 30 miles west of Boston, and then found the massive stockpile of cash.

Accused of laundering money for company at center of pyramid scheme investigation

Rocha is accused of laundering money for TelexFree, an internet voice company based in nearby Marlborough that is at the center of a massive international pyramid scheme investigation. Federal prosecutors say Rocha was working as a courier for the company when he flew from Brazil to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. A few days later Rocha met a person prosecutors are describing as a “cooperating witness” at a restaurant in Massachusetts, who gave him $2.2 million in cash in a suitcase. From the restaurant, federal agents followed Rocha to his apartment where they found millions of dollars more, neatly wrapped and neatly stacked in the box spring,

Co-founder of company fled to Brazil

One of the founders of TelexFree -- James Merrill -- is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to running the scheme.

But another founder -- Carlos Wanzeler -- remains at large after fleeing to his native Brazil.

The Boston Herald reports that Rocha’s lawyer, Raymond Sayeg Jr., had asked the judge to to grant bail, even with GPS monitoring, arguing that his client had no criminal record. But the judge wasn’t swayed by the argument.

“However, given that he’s a citizen of Brazil, and Brazil does not recognize extradition, the judge was not convinced there was a certainty that the defendant would appear,” Sayeg told the newspaper.

If convicted of the money laundering charges Rocha could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

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