Baton Rouge Woman Sentenced to 48 Months in Federal Prison for Defrauding the PPP and EIDL Loan Programs and Laundering the Fraudulent Proceeds
Acting United States Attorney Ellison C. Travis announced that Chief U.S. District Judge Shelly D. Dick sentenced Raymond Mathews, age 35, of Oakland Park, Florida, to 48 months in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The Court further sentenced Mathews to serve five years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment, ordered him to pay $224,068 in restitution, and further ordered him to forfeit an additional $77,070.69 in proceeds from his crime.
Today’s sentence stems from a lengthy federal, state, and local investigation that spanned numerous jurisdictions across several states and led to convictions against ten (10) individuals for participating in a fraudulent scheme targeting victims in the Middle District of Louisiana. As the charging documents explain, and numerous defendants have admitted in connection with their guilty pleas, from August 2016 through February 2017, the defendants traveled through numerous states, including Louisiana, where they would break into unattended vehicles, steal the victims’ licenses, checkbooks, and credit and debit cards, and then use the stolen items to conduct fraudulent financial transactions at the victims’ banks. As alleged in the Indictment, throughout the course of the conspiracy, in an effort to evade detection and capture, the defendants would monitor social media and other websites for reports of criminal activity attributed to the “Felony Lane Gang,” a term often used to describe criminals engaged in this type of scheme. The defendants would use social media postings regarding Felony Lane Gang activity to plot the courses of their trips (e.g., to avoid locations where they perceived banks and law enforcement to be particularly effective at detecting fraud) and to increase the success of their endeavor (e.g., by checking to make sure that their own photographs and identities had not been publicly disseminated).
As Mathews admitted in connection with his guilty plea, he joined the group in August 2016 and participated in trips about once a month, through February 2017. Mathews often assisted the other members of the conspiracy by filling out the stolen checks and forging the victims’ signatures on the checks, so that other members of the conspiracy could take the checks and fraudulently cash them at the victims’ banks. Mathews is the eighth defendant from this investigation to be sentenced to federal prison as a result of his role in this scheme.
The status of the other charged defendants in this investigation is as follows:
In addition, all of the defendants sentenced to date have been ordered to pay restitution for their crimes and serve terms of supervised release following their release from prison.
Acting U.S. Attorney Ellison C. Travis stated, “The convictions and sentencings of these interstate criminals sends a clear message that this type of organized crime will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I want to congratulate our prosecutors and all of our federal, state, and local partners around the country for their tireless efforts.”
Douglas Williams, Jr., FBI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge, stated, “The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue those individuals, such as Mr. Raymond Mathews, who seek to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense of others. The investigation of the Felony Lane Gang’s criminal activities was expansive and far reaching. The successful results of the investigation and prosecution would not have been possible without the substantial assistance of our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana.”
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Baton Rouge Police Department, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, Walker Police Department, Lafayette Police Department, Covington Police Department, Oxford (Mississippi) Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol and Asheville (North Carolina) Police Department. The investigation has received substantial assistance from the 19th JDC District Attorney’s Office in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the Johnson County, Wyoming Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and the Third Judicial Circuit of Florida State Attorney’s Office.
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alan Stevens, who serves as Senior Litigation Counsel for the United States Attorney’s Office, and former Assistant United States Attorneys Chris Dippel and Cal Leipold.