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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 26, 2021

Eleven Additional Defendants Plead Guilty In $300 Million Nationwide Telemarketing Fraud Scheme

United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald today announced the guilty pleas of eleven additional defendants for their roles in a $300 million telemarketing fraud scheme that targeted elderly and other vulnerable victims. The defendants, who were indicted on October 27, 2020, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

According to their guilty pleas and documents filed with the court, the defendants participated in the fraud scheme in various roles, including telemarketers, call center managers, or magazine company owners. The defendants used, or directed their co-defendants to use, fraudulent sales scripts to defraud victim-consumers, many of whom were elderly or otherwise vulnerable, out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The fraudulent sales scripts were designed to induce consumers, through a series of lies and misrepresentations, into making large or repeat payments to the companies.

JANNICE KRISTINA LAUR, 39, the manager of a telemarketing call center in Pompano Beach, Florida, pleaded guilty on February 26, 2021, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud before Senior Judge David S. Doty in U.S. District Court. As part of her guilty plea, LAUR agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution to all identified victims in this and related cases.

VASEAN BERIOISOVA RICKS, 53, a telemarketer at a call center in Oxford, Mississippi, pleaded guilty on February 26, 2021, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud before Senior Judge David S. Doty in U.S. District Court. As part of her guilty plea, RICKS agreed to pay $15,000 in restitution to all identified victims in this and related cases.

JARED THOMAS MICHELIZZI, 37, the owner and operator of fraudulent magazine sales companies in Fridley, Minnesota, and San Diego, California, , pleaded guilty on February 25, 2021, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud before Senior Judge Paul A. Magnuson in U.S. District Court. As part of his guilty plea, MICHELIZZI agreed to pay $22,076,363 in restitution to all identified victims in this and related cases.

JAMES ANTHONY SIERRA, 55, the manager of telemarketing call centers in Tempe, Arizona, pleaded guilty on February 22, 2021, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud before Senior Judge David S. Doty in U.S. District Court. As part of his guilty plea, SIERRA agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution to all identified victims in this and related cases.

DANIEL MATHIAS, 62, the owner and operator of an Oxford, Mississippi-based company involved in fraudulent magazine sales, pleaded guilty on February 17, 2021, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud before Senior Judge David S. Doty in U.S. District Court. As part of his guilty plea, MATHIAS agreed to pay $2,746,547 in restitution to all identified victims in this and related cases.

LLOYD JOSEPH LOFTIS, 60, the manager of a telemarketing call center in Cape Coral, Florida, pleaded guilty on January 28, 2021, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud before Senior Judge David S. Doty in U.S. District Court. As part of his guilty plea, LOFTIS agreed to pay $50,000 in restitution to all identified victims in this and related cases.

CORLOS KENTRELL SMITH, 41, a telemarketer at a call center in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, pleaded guilty on January 5, 2021, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud before Senior Judge Paul A. Magnuson in U.S. District Court. As part of his guilty plea, SMITH agreed to pay $15,000 in restitution to all identified victims in this and related cases.

IRMA BEATRICE TIMMERMAN, 47, an owner and operator of Arizona-based companies involved in fraudulent magazine sales, pleaded guilty on December 16, 2020, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud before Senior Judge Paul A. Magnuson in U.S. District Court. As part of her guilty plea, TIMMERMAN agreed to pay $1,853,293 in restitution to all identified victims in this and related cases.

RONALD OLLO COLEMAN, 59, an owner and operator of Georgia-based companies involved in fraudulent magazine sales, pleaded guilty on December 16, 2020, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud before Senior Judge Paul A. Magnuson in U.S. District Court. As part of his guilty plea, COLEMAN agreed to pay $1,762,912 in restitution to all identified victims in this and related cases.

JOHN MICHAEL BLALOCK, 53, the owner and manager of a fraudulent magazine sales company in Cape Coral, Florida, pleaded guilty on December 11, 2020, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud before Senior Judge David S. Doty in U.S. District Court. As part of his guilty plea, BLALOCK agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution to all identified victims in this and related cases.

SHARON DENISE MCEWEN, 54, a telemarketer at a cell center in Oxford, Mississippi, pleaded guilty on December 9, 2020, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud before Senior Judge Paul A. Magnuson in U.S. District Court. As part of her guilty plea, MCEWEN agreed to pay $15,000 in restitution to all identified victims in this and related cases.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has set up website containing additional information about the case, including information about how victims of the fraud scheme can submit claims for restitution. The website is available at https://www.justice.gov/usao-mn/magazine-scam-victim-information

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Additional assistance was provided by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph H. Thompson, Harry M. Jacobs, and Melinda A. Williams are prosecuting the case.

 

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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600

 

Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated February 26, 2021