United States v. Jeffrey Robert Bonner et al.
Court Docket Number: 3:13-cr-00021 (W.D. of North Carolina)
Court Assigned: This case is assigned to Chief Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr., U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, 401 West Trade Street, Room 210, Charlotte, North Carolina 28202.
Criminal Charges: On January 17, 2013, Jeffrey Robert Bonner, Cory Trevor Burgsteiner, and Darra Lee Shephard were indicted for their roles in a Costa Rican telemarketing scheme. The three defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud; eight counts of substantive wire fraud; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; and three substantive counts of money laundering. The indictment also seeks forfeiture from the defendants. The indictment was unsealed on August 16, 2013.
According to the indictment, Bonner owned and operated “call centers,” or boiler rooms, located in San Jose, Costa Rica, which he and his co-defendants and co-conspirators used to defraud United States residents, typically over the age of 55, by deceiving them into believing that they had won prizes in a “sweepstakes contest.” The indictment alleges that Bonner, Burgsteiner, Shephard, and their co-conspirators made calls to victims from Costa Rica using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which utilizes computers to make telephone calls over the Internet, thereby disguising the originating location of the calls. As charged, victims were informed that to receive their “prize,” they were to wire, via Western Union, thousands of dollars for a purported “refundable insurance fee” to a so-called “insurance entity” in Costa Rica. When victims questioned the legitimacy of the operation, they were given phone numbers purportedly to United States government agents who falsely reassured the victims that they had, in fact, won a sweepstakes prize. Many of the wires to Costa Rica went through Western Union in Charlotte, North Carolina. The co-conspirators then continued to solicit victims to send more money until their victims’ funds were depleted.
For more information about the case, please see below:
Press Release – July 14, 2016
Press Release – December 13, 2016
United States v. Jeffrey Robert Bonner
United States v. Cory Trevor Burgsteiner
United States v. Darra Lee Shephard
The information on this website will be updated as new developments arise in the case. If you have any questions, please call the Victim Assistance Line toll-free at (888) 549-3945 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Presumption of Innocence: It is important to keep in mind that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty and that presumption requires both the court and our office to take certain steps to ensure that justice is served.
Crime Victims’ Rights Act and Right to Retain Counsel: The Crime Victims’ Rights Act (18 U.S.C. § 3771) applies only to victims of the counts charged in federal court, and thus individuals may not be able to exercise all of these rights if the crime of which the individual is a victim was not charged. Section 377I(c)(2) of this Act requires that we advise you that you have the right to retain counsel. Although the statute specifically sets forth your right to seek advice of an attorney with regard to your rights under the statute, there is no requirement that you retain counsel. The Government may not recommend any specific counsel, nor can the Government (or the Court) pay for counsel to represent you. Government attorneys represent the United States.
If you elect to obtain counsel to represent your interests, please have your attorney notify this office in writing at: U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section, 10th & Constitution Avenue, NW, Bond Building, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20530, Attention: Victim Witness Unit; fax: (202) 514-3708; or email: email@example.com. If you elect not to retain counsel to represent your interests, you do not need to do anything.
Plea Agreements: Please be aware that many criminal cases are resolved by plea agreement between the Department of Justice and the defendant. You should also know that it is not unusual for a defendant to seek to negotiate a plea agreement shortly before trial is scheduled to begin. Plea agreements can be made at any time and as late as the morning of trial, leaving little or no opportunity to provide notice to you of the date and time of the plea hearing. If the court schedules a plea hearing in this case, we will use our best efforts to notify you of available information as soon as practicable. If you want to inform the prosecutor of your views regarding potential plea agreements, or any other aspect of the case, please contact the prosecutor assigned to this case or call the Victim Assistance Line toll-free at (888) 549-3945 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.