News and Press Releases

Ten Members of Gaffney Mail Theft Ring Sentenced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2013

Contact Person: Beth Drake (803) 929-3000

Columbia, South Carolina -----United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated that Senior United States District Judge Henry M. Herlong of Greenville has sentenced ten defendants in a large mail theft conspiracy.  The defendants who were sentenced are:

  • Lora M Berry, age 32, of Gaffney, was sentenced to 36 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $77,845 in restitution;
  • Paul Huskey, age 32, of Spartanburg, was sentenced to 46 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $77,845 in restitution;
  • Stacey E McCrary, age 33, of  Inman, was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $77,845 in restitution;
  • Joshua P Hodge , age 31,  of Spartanburg, was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $77,845 in restitution; 
  • Nicki N Heffner-Minnix, age 28, of Gaffney, SC, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $28,000 in restitution;
  • Randall T Cantrell, age 33, of Chesnee, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $28,000 in restitution;
  • David L Ward, age 37, of Memphis, TN, was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $28,0000 in restitution;
  • Susan B Abernathy, age 29, of Blacksburg, was sentenced to 26 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $1,400 in restitution;
  • Lisa Mullinax, age 23, of Gaffney, was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay $900 in restitution;
  • Christopher D Richardson, age 37, of Blacksburg, was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $3000 in restitution. 

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that this was a conspiracy that operated in the upstate of South Carolina from May 2011 through December 2012.  The participants stole mail, altered checks stolen from the mail, and made counterfeit checks based on personal information obtained from the stolen mail.  Often, individuals were recruited to open bank accounts into which counterfeit checks were deposited and from where funds were withdrawn before the fraud could be detected.  The conspiracy did utilize some stolen identification documents when passing checks, but often individuals used their actual government issued identification documents when cashing checks at various locations.  According to law enforcement, actual losses attributed to the mail theft and check cashing activities of the conspiracy exceeded $900,000.  Hundreds of residents had their mail stolen during the months that the conspiracy was in operation.  Much of the money obtained by the conspirators was used to purchase methamphetamine, the drug of choice of many of the defendants participating in the conspiracy. 

The case was investigated by agents of the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Spartanburg County Sheriff=s Office, and the Cherokee County Sheriff=s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.

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