News and Press Releases

Fort Pierce Financial Manager and Six Other St. Lucie County Residents Charged in Mail Fraud Embezzlement Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 7, 2012

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Paula Reid, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, Miami Field Office, and Sean Baldwin, Chief, Fort Pierce Police Department (FPPD), announce the indictment of Erica Gilmore-Grier, 35, of Fort Pierce, for embezzling more than $200,000 from her former employer, Policy Studies, Inc. (PSI), while working as a financial manager for the PSI Call Center in Fort Pierce, Florida. Margo Nickerson, 36, of Fort Pierce, Bridgette Galarza, 31, of Port St. Lucie, Chelsea Durham, 40, of Port St. Lucie, Jessica Harris, 22, of Fort Pierce, Jamile Williams, 34, of Fort Pierce and Venus Holloman, 26, of Fort Pierce, were also indicted as part of the scheme. All of the defendants are St. Lucie County residents.

The indictment charges Gilmore-Grier, Holloman, Nickerson, Galarza, Durham, Harris and Williams with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and sixty-four counts of mail fraud. Gilmore, Nickerson, Galarza, Durham and Williams had first appearances in federal court in Fort Pierce today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Lynch, Jr. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory sentence of up to twenty years in prison on each count.

According to the indictment, from October 2008 to October 2011, PSI was a management company supporting federal and state governments in administering health and human services programs, such as health insurance for low income children, across the United States. One public program administered by PSI was Georgia PeachCare for Kids (GAPC), a children’s health insurance program providing affordable healthcare for children who are Georgia residents and who live in low-income households. PSI’s Fort Pierce Call Center administered the GAPC program. Gilmore-Grier worked as Finance Team Lead at PSI’s Fort Pierce Call Center. Gilmore-Grier was responsible for overseeing the resolution of financial issues on GAPC customer accounts and issuing refunds when customers overpaid their premiums.

The indictment alleges that from October 2008 to October 2011, Gilmore-Grier authorized fraudulent refund checks for her co-defendants and others, who were not GAPC clients and not entitled to refunds, by claiming that they were legitimate GAPC clients who had inadvertently overpaid their premiums. Based on Gilmore-Grier’s requests, PSI’s main office in Denver, Colorado issued more than 64 checks to Gilmore-Grier’s friends and family throughout St. Lucie County. Holloman, Nickerson, Galarza, Durham, Harris and Williams were among the individuals who received and cashed checks and split the proceeds with Gilmore-Grier. According to the indictment, Gilmore-Grier and others stole approximately $213,147.56 from PSI and GAPC through this scheme.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Secret Service and the Fort Pierce Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shaniek Maynard.

An indictment is only an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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