Most Recent Update: 8/30/13
On August 26, 2013, U. S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes of the Western District of Missouri sentenced Thomas Laurence, 31, to 130 months in prison; Thomas Strawbridge, 50, to 82 months in prison and Elizabeth Meredith, 25, to a year and a day in prison. In addition to prison time, the court ordered the three defendants to pay a total of $613,969 in restitution to victims. Under federal law, restitution is ordered in criminal cases, generally on the basis of losses a defendant causes and without regard to the defendant’s ability to pay the restitution. There is no guarantee that any restitution will be collected in this case. If restitution is paid, it likely will be a small percentage of the total amount lost. For more information on these sentences, visit this page.
On May 10, 2013, the court rescheduled the sentencing hearings for all three defendants to June 6, 2013. The hearing for Meredith is scheduled to begin at 10:30am, Laurence at 11:30am, and Strawbridge at 4pm.
5/3/13 Update: Thomas Strawbridge is scheduled to be sentenced at 3:00 pm on May 15, 2013, at the Federal Courthouse in Jefferson City, Missouri.
4/17/13 Update: Thomas Laurence and Elizabeth Meredith are scheduled to be sentenced at 9:30 am on May 15, 2013, at the Federal Courthouse in Jefferson City, Missouri. A sentencing date for Thomas Strawbridge has not yet been set.
On August 23, 2012, Thomas Joseph Strawbridge, 49, and Thomas Barret Laurence, 30, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in connection with Immigration Forms and Publications (IFP). On August 24, 2012, Elizabeth Lindsey Meredith, 24, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, six counts of mail fraud and seven counts of wire fraud for her involvement in the scheme. A sentencing date has not yet been set. For more information, see Department of Justice press releases dated August 23 and August 24.
3/29/12 Update: On March 29, 2012, at the request of defense counsel, the Court rescheduled trial in this matter to September 17, 2012.
2/21/12 Update: On February 21, 2012, an indictment was unsealed in the Western District of Missouri charging Thomas Strawbridge, Thomas Laurence, and Elizabeth Meredith, all of Missouri, with conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud. The Indictment alleges that the defendants and their co-conspirators fraudulently told customers that their company, Immigration Forms and Publications (IFP), handled “overload” calls for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and would provide expert assistance in filling out government immigration forms. The defendants referred to their co-conspirators as “immigration agents” in calls with customers, the Indictment alleges, and said that money paid to IFP included government processing fees. The Indictment states that customers paid hundreds of dollars up front for forms the government provides at no charge, received little or no assistance, and eventually discovered that none of the government fees had been paid. Judge Nanette K. Laughrey will hear the case in Jefferson City, Missouri. The Court set an initial trial date of April 23, 2012.
Charges in an indictment are only allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. For more information, see the press release issued February 21, 2012.