Second Guilty Plea In Child Support Collection Business And In Drug Conspiracy
Michael J. Moore, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced that Mark C. Simpson, 51, of Lake Park, Georgia, entered pleas of guilty on January 22, 2014, to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in one case and to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine in a separate case. Mr. Simpson entered his pleas of guilty before Senior U.S. District Court Judge Hugh Lawson in Macon, Georgia.
As a part of his plea, Mr. Simpson admitted that from September 2007 through August 2009, he, his co-defendant Stuart C. Cole, and others conspired to operate a fraudulent private child support collection business in Lake Park, Georgia and in other locations known as Child Support Services of Atlanta and Child Support Services. Mr. Simpson, Mr. Cole and their associates defrauded custodial parents who were to receive child support payments by inducing them to sign collection agreements with their company and offering to assist them in collecting child support payments from non-custodial parents, claiming that all fees connected with the collections would be the responsibility of the non-custodial parent. Mr. Simpson and Mr. Cole would then use fraud, deception and coercion to get non-custodial parents and their employers to send funds for “child support” to their business. Only a portion of the funds was ever given to the parents for the use of the children. The remainder was retained by Mr. Simpson, Mr. Cole and their associates to fund their lifestyles including leases of homes, cars and boats. The conspiracy collected more than $2.3 million and retained approximately $1.2 million. Additionally, Mr. Simpson admitted to laundering the collected funds through bank accounts including an account for a corporation, purported to be a church, as “love gifts”. Mr. Cole entered a plea of guilty to the same charges on January 17, 2014 in Valdosta, Georgia, and is also currently serving a federal sentence for a drug distribution conviction in the Southern District of Texas.
In a separate case, Mr. Simpson admitted to conspiring with a number of other individuals, including Cole, between 2007 and October 21, 2011, to distribute cocaine in Georgia. Simpson was stopped on I-85 in Troup County, Georgia on December 15, 2010, carrying approximately 13 kilograms of cocaine in furtherance of the conspiracy. The drugs were found in a hidden compartment around the transmission of the vehicle he was driving, which had Texas tags and had crossed the border into Mexico as recently as the day before the stop. The Defendant and the Government stipulated that Mr. Simpson would be sentenced based on the possession with intent to distribute between 15 and 50 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride as a part of the drug distribution conspiracy.
The Court has scheduled sentencing in both cases for April 4, 2014 in Albany, Georgia. Mr. Simpson faces a maximum possible sentence of up to twenty (20) years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000, or both, on the mail and wire fraud conspiracy count and up to twenty (20) years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $500,000.00 or twice the value of the property involved in the money laundering, whichever is greater, or both on the money laundering conspiracy. Mr. Simpson also agreed to forfeit all assets obtained directly or indirectly through his criminal activity in that case. In the cocaine conspiracy case, Mr. Simpson faces an additional sentence of a mandatory minimum 10 years to life imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000,000.
U.S. Attorney Michael Moore said, “Mr. Simpson and Mr. Cole took advantage of victims who needed help the most. These were parents trying to raise children on their own and having to do it without the financial support these children were due from parents who were not living up to their financial obligations. On the one hand, Mr. Simpson and Mr. Cole offered hope to the custodial parents, and then with the other hand, they snatched the money that they were counting on to support their children away from them. While Mr. Simpson was taking money meant for children, he was also involved in putting cocaine on the street. He may have been able to hide his drug stash, but he can’t hide from the law.”
“The actions committed by Mr. Simpson and Mr. Cole are especially troubling, given that ultimately the victims were children. The Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection is pleased to have initiated this investigation more than five years ago and to see these individuals finally brought to justice,” said John D. Sours, Administrator, Georgia Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection.
“Those individuals who line their pockets with money gained through deceiving others should know they will not go undetected and will be held accountable," stated Special Agent in Charge, Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot. “IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to ‘following the money trail’ to ensure that those who engage in these illegal activities are vigorously investigated and brought to justice”.
“U.S. Postal Inspectors have protected the sanctity of the U.S. mails for over 200 years. Working closely with our law enforcement partners, we were persistent in our investigative efforts to bring to justice those responsible for victimizing the families in this particular case. The use of U.S. mail to defraud the American public cannot and will not be tolerated,” said Keith A. Fixel, Inspector in Charge, Charlotte Division.
Harry S. Sommers, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division stated, “Drug traffickers who distribute illegal and dangerous drugs are a true menace to society. These crack distributors have now been removed from the streets, largely because of the true spirit of cooperation that exists between all of the law enforcement agencies involved.”The money and wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, United States Postal Inspection Service and the Georgia Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection. Assistant United States Attorney Robert D. McCullers is handling that prosecution for the Government. The drug conspiracy case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Leah E. McEwen is handling that prosecution for the Government.
For additional information please contact Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office at (478) 621-2603.