FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Feb. 22, 2014
GOODWIN ANNOUNCES GUILTY PLEA FROM DEFENDANT WHO SCAMMED ELDERLY VICTIMS
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – An individual who participated in a scheme that netted more than $60,000 in one week from senior citizens in West Virginia and elsewhere has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced today. According to the plea agreement, Sheray J. McKay, 21, of Suitland, Md., pleaded guilty to an offense under 18 U.S.C. 1349.
"Scams to steal from older West Virginians are downright shameful,” U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said. “Protecting our state’s senior citizens is one of my top priorities, and in 2014, we’re going to work harder than ever to catch criminals who cheat seniors.”
According to the plea agreement, beginning in or about November 7, 2012, and continuing through November 13, 2012, McKay and others participated in a scheme to solicit money from about 16 elderly individuals who resided in West Virginia and other states. As part of the scheme, numerous elderly individuals were called at their homes and asked for money under false pretenses. It was a part of the scheme that the callers, posing as family members or clergymen of the elderly citizens, or lawyers for the so-called family members or clergymen, often falsely stated that they had been in car accidents or had been arrested for driving while intoxicated and needed money to get out of jail and pay attorney’s fees. Based on these misrepresentations, the elderly victims wired money to McKay in Maryland. McKay then picked up the monies from the wire transfers, kept a portion of the monies for herself, and handed over the rest of the monies to other individuals. Under the plea agreement, McKay agrees that she owes restitution in the amount of at least $33,400.oo and up to $61,788.00.
The defendants charged in the indictment picked up the funds from the wire transfers in Maryland and New York. The victims targeted in the alleged scheme ranged in age from 70 to 95 years old.
McKay was arrested in Maryland in December 2013 on an indictment which charged her and two co-defendants, Kacey K. Moise of New York, and Charnita E. Ryland, also of Maryland, with 12 counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. McKay was specifically charged with four counts: conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud. Based upon her guilty plea, McKay faces up to 20 years in prison at sentencing. McKay’s sentencing is set for June 5, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.
McKay’s plea hearing was conducted by United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston.
Today’s plea is part of U.S. Attorney Goodwin’s work to protect West Virginia’s senior citizens. Over the past few years, Goodwin has visited senior center locations in nearly twenty West Virginia counties to offer tips to protect seniors in their homes and help them avoid financial scams like this one. Additional information regarding this initiative can be found at http://www.justice.gov/usao/wvs/safe-seniors.html.
The investigation was conducted by the United States Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorneys Eumi Choi and Meredith Thomas are handling the prosecution.