Tuesday, October 6, 2010
Department of Justice
United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee
JOHNSON CITY RESIDENTS INDICTED ON FEDERAL WIRE FRAUD CHARGES
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. -On September 15, 2010, a federal grand jury in Greeneville returned a 36-count indictment against Debra Lynn Gouge, 52, and Jawad Lashin, 35, both of Johnson City, Tenn., for federal wire fraud charges. Gouge and Lashin were arrested and appeared in court on October 5, 2010, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis H. Inman. Both entered pleas of not guilty to the charges in the indictment and were temporarily detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for today. Trial was set for February 22, 2011, in United States District Court, in Greeneville.
The indictment charges that during 2006 and 2007, Gouge and Lashin entered into a scheme to take money from undocumented alien workers and their employers by representing to be immigration specialists who could obtain legal status for the workers. The indictment identified 32 different victims who paid a total of $91,925, for services which were never provided. The indictment also charges that Gouge transported stolen money in interstate commerce; submitted materially false information to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and concealed material information from the SSA to ensure her receipt of disability benefits; and failed to file a federal income tax returns for 2006 and 2007.
If convicted of wire fraud, both Gouge and Lashin face a maximum term of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine; up to three years on supervised release; and $100 mandatory assessments on each count. Additionally, Gouge faces a maximum term of 10 years in prison; a $250,000 fine; up to three years on supervised release; and a $100 mandatory assessment on each count, if convicted of the interstate transport of stolen money. If convicted of the disability counts, Gouge faces a maximum term of five years in prison; a $250,000 fine; up to three years on supervised release; and a $100 mandatory assessment on each count. Gouge also faces up to one year in prison; a maximum fine of $25,000; up to one year on supervised release; and up to five years on probation, if convicted of failure to file a tax return for 2006. Finally, if convicted of filing a false income tax return for 2007, Gouge faces up to three years in prison; a maximum fine of $250,000; up to one year on supervised release; and up to one year on probation, as well as a $100 mandatory assessment.
This indictment is the result of an investigation by the FBI, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation; and the SSA, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Helen Smith will represent the United States.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment constitutes only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.