United States v. Jeffrey Robert Bonner et al.
Court Docket Number: 3:13-cr-21
This case is assigned to Chief Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr., United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, 401 West Trade Street, Room 210, Charlotte, North Carolina 28202.
On August 16, 2013, an indictment filed in the Western District of North Carolina against Jeffrey Robert Bonner (a/k/a Nicholas Dover, Keith Forbes, Michael Forbes, Michael Miller, Ashley Clark, and William Forbes), Cody Trevor Burgsteiner (a/k/a Clinton Barnes and Everette Jones) and Darra Lee Shephard (a/k/a Nora Southerland and Donna Ramirez) was unsealed. The indictment charges one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud (Count 1: 18 U.S.C. § 1349) in connection with an offshore fraudulent telemarketing scheme based in Costa Rica. The indictment also charges each defendant with eight counts of wire fraud (Counts 2-9: 18 U.S.C. § 1343), one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering (Count 10: 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h)), four counts of money laundering (Counts 11-14: 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(2)(A)), and seeks forfeiture (18 U.S.C. § 982(a)(8)) from each defendant. The defendants are currently fugitives.
According to the indictment, Bonner owned and operated “call centers,” or boiler rooms, located in San Jose, Costa Rica, which he and his co-defendants and co-conspirators used to defraud United States residents, typically over the age of 55, by deceiving them into believing that they had won prizes in a “sweepstakes contest.” The indictment alleges that Bonner, Burgsteiner, Shephard, and their co-conspirators made calls to victims from Costa Rica using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which utilizes computers to make telephone calls over the Internet, thereby disguising the originating location of the calls. As charged, victims were informed that to receive their “prize,” they were to wire, via Western Union, thousands of dollars for a purported “refundable insurance fee” to a so-called “insurance entity” in Costa Rica. When victims questioned the legitimacy of the operation, they were given phone numbers purportedly to United States government agents who falsely reassured the victims that they had, in fact, won a sweepstakes prize. Many of the wires to Costa Rica went through Western Union in Charlotte, North Carolina. The co-conspirators then continued to solicit victims to send more money until their victims’ funds were depleted.
Additionally, please be aware that most criminal cases are resolved by a plea agreement. It is not unusual for a defendant to negotiate a plea agreement shortly before a trial is scheduled to begin. Plea agreements can be made at any time and as late as the morning of trial, leaving little or no opportunity to provide you notice of the date and time of the plea hearing. If the court schedules a plea hearing in this case, we will use our best efforts to notify you of available information as soon as practicable. Because short deadlines can occur you should be aware that we update this webpage frequently and therefore you should check this webpage for the latest information related to this case. In addition, if you have any views about a possible guilty plea that may result from this case, or any other aspect of the case, you can submit your views in writing to Pam Washington at: U.S. Department of Justice, 10th & Constitution Avenue, NW, Bond Building, Room 4216, Washington, D.C. 20530 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further, if you desire to be notified of any change in plea in this case, you should call or email her at your earliest convenience.
It is important to keep in mind that the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty and that presumption requires both the Court and our office to take certain steps to ensure that justice is served.
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Related case: Related cases pending in the Western District of North Carolina, United States v. Glen Adkins, Jr., and Warren F. Tonsing, Jr. (Court Docket No. 3:12-cr-00259-RJC-DCK) and United States v. Patricia Diane Clark (Court Docket No. 3:13-cr-00163-FDW-DCK.