Statement from United States Attorney Prim F. Escalona on Appearance of Joran van der Sloot in Federal Court in Birmingham, Alabama
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A federal indictment unsealed yesterday charges seven individuals for their participation in a prison-based telephone scam and conspiring to smuggle cell phones, controlled substances, and other contraband to inmates at the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility (Donaldson) in Bessemer, Alabama, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Patrick Davis.
A seventeen-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges Keith Devon Perry, aka “Keep Paper,” 30, of Anniston, Kierro Deandrew Nelson, aka “10K,” 32, of Montgomery, Shedrick Romon Johnson, aka, “Cett,” 43, of Montgomery, Deangelo Lamon Russell, aka “Dee,” 31, of Anniston, Desmond Arterrio Nelson, aka “Dez,” 35, of Montgomery, and Aleshia Nelson,” aka “Leshia,” 30, of Montgomery, with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, using a facility in interstate commerce in furtherance of an unlawful activity, and conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Perry, Kierro Nelson, Johnson, and Brantley Glen Wheatley, aka “Queen B,” 29, of Tuscaloosa, are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Perry, Johnson, and Wheatley are charged with wire fraud. Perry and Wheatley are charged with aggravated identity theft. Perry, Kierro Nelson, Johnson, Wheatley, and Russell are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The defendants include current and former inmates at Donaldson, as well as family members of two inmates. The charges stem from a larger investigation into fraud and corruption at Donaldson that has to date resulted in nine additional individuals being charged. Those individuals include Wilson Brian Clemons, Ricardo Poole, Sr., Kortney Jovan Simon, Otis Lee Bowers, Terry Ray Bradshaw, Rennita Renee Perry, Kiara Reshell Anderson, Ricardo Poole, Jr., and Rhonda Thompson Poole.
According to the indictment, between July 2021 and February 2022, the defendants used contraband cell phones, social engineering techniques, and spoofing technology to trick retailers into transferring them funds under fraudulent pretenses. The proceeds of these telephone scams were then used to, among other things, finance the purchase of controlled substances and to pay bribes to corrections officers at Donaldson.
The charges of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and use of a facility in interstate commerce in furtherance of illegal activity both carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison The charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison.
The U.S. Secret Service Cyber Fraud Task Force investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward J. Canter and John M. Hundscheid are prosecuting the case. The Alabama Department of Corrections Law Enforcement Services Division, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have assisted in the investigation.
An indictment contains only charges. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty.