Springfield Man Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Wire Fraud in Connection with Fraudulent Scheme to Obtain Pandemic Unemployment Benefits
United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced today the recent unsealing of a federal grand jury indictment charging five defendants with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit access device fraud. The indictment is the latest set of charges in a lengthy federal investigation that has spanned numerous jurisdictions across several states and has resulted in charges against ten (10) different individuals for participating in a fraudulent scheme targeting victims in the Middle District of Louisiana.
According to the indictment, which was filed under seal in December 2018 and recently unsealed by the court, the defendants allegedly engaged in an extensive criminal scheme to 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. The defendants charged in this indictment began targeting victims in Louisiana in August of 2016 and continued to engage in criminal conduct in Louisiana (among other states) through February of 2017. The latest indictment includes charges against the following individuals:
Five additional individuals have already been convicted and sentenced to federal prison for their roles in this criminal scheme. Erin Brown, age 23, of Newport, Tennessee, Natasha Hammett, age 29, of Opa-Locka, Florida, and Tina Eggleston, age 48, originally from San Fernando, California, have each been convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Johnny Jones, age 32, of Fort Lauderhill, Florida, and Allen Clark, age 30, of Margate, Florida, have each been convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and possession of unauthorized access devices.
U.S. Attorney Brandon J. Fremin stated, “Unfortunately, criminals these days know no borders. This indictment illustrates that criminals are willing to travel far and wide to defraud innocent victims. This indictment and prior related bills of information against a total of ten members of a group who were working together to victimize citizens here in our community sends a very clear message – we are not open for your type of business. We will continue to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement, throughout the country, to find organized criminals like these and bring them to justice in order to protect our citizens. I want to thank our prosecutors, and all of the numerous law enforcement agencies and officers around the country, who have worked tirelessly to bring these fraudsters to justice.”
Eric J. Rommal, FBI New Orleans Field Office Special Agent in Charge, stated, “The FBI New Orleans Field Office will vigorously investigate all forms of financial crimes regardless of the subjects' background, financial status or relation to the victims.”
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 Attorneys Alan Stevens and Chris Dippel, who both serve as Deputy Criminal Chiefs, and former AUSA Cal Leipold.
NOTE: An indictment is an accusation by a grand jury. The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless adjudicated guilty at trial or through a guilty plea.