Angela Althea Peart was sentenced in connection with her role in a fraudulent international lottery scheme that targeted U.S. citizens, the Justice Department announced today. Peart was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Moore for the Southern District of Florida in Miami to serve 33 months in prison and 5 years supervised release. A hearing on restitution has been scheduled for June 5, 2014.
Peart’s prosecution is part of the Department of Justice’s effort, working with federal and local law enforcement, to combat international lottery fraud schemes preying on American citizens. According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Americans have lost tens of millions of dollars to fraudulent foreign lotteries.
“International lottery fraud aimed at stealing from elderly victims cannot, and will not, be tolerated by the Department of Justice,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Stuart F. Delery. “We will seek to hold accountable those who participate in illegal lottery schemes, including those in the U.S. who facilitate schemes directed from abroad.”
“As international fraudsters focus their criminal schemes on Americans, we will do all we can to prosecute and deter such criminal activity,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo A. Ferrer. “N ow more than ever, the public needs to be mindful of these schemes to avoid falling prey to them. So long as criminals continue to line their pockets with the money of our nation’s seniors, we will be there to prosecute them and bring them to justice.”
A federal grand jury in Miami returned an indictment against Peart and co-conspirator Charmaine Anne King on Oct. 31, 2013. Judge Moore adopted a report and recommendation accepting Peart’s guilty plea on Feb. 4, 2014. Co-defendant King was convicted by a federal jury in Miami on Feb. 5, 2014, of one count of conspiracy, three counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud. King’s sentencing is scheduled for April 17, 2014.
As part of her guilty plea, Peart admitted that beginning in or around March 2012 and continuing through, in or around November 2013, she was a member of a conspiracy to fraudulently enrich herself by keeping victims’ money for her own benefit without paying any lottery winnings. Peart acknowledged that a co-conspirator, believed to be located in Canada, mailed letters to elderly victims in the United States falsely informing the victims that they had won more than a million dollars in a lottery. These letters purported to be from an actual sweepstakes company in the United States.
Peart also admitted that as part of the conspiracy, victims were told that they must make a payment of several thousand dollars in order to collect their purported lottery winnings. The victims were told to send their payments to Peart and others. Peart acknowledged that she received victims’ funds, kept 10 percent of the money received from victims and then sent the rest to another member of the conspiracy. Victims never received any lottery winnings.
Assistant Attorney General Delery commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Marshals Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Director Jeffrey Steger and Trial Attorney Kathryn Drenning with the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, Consumer Protection Branch.