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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Autry State Prison Inmate Pleads Guilty to Laundering $1 Million from Prison

Reginald Perkins, who admitted he laundered approximately $1 million of illegal proceeds from inside Autry State Prison, has pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to launder money as part of a wide-ranging federal investigation of criminal activity and corruption inside Georgia State prisons.

“This case re-emphasizes the widespread and corrosive effects that cell phones have in prisons,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn.  “A prison is the last place where criminal activity like this should be occurring, and the fact that the amount of money laundered through this inmate’s conduct totals $1 million is mind-boggling.”

“The level of victimization that this Georgia Department of Corrections inmate could cause is astonishing and disheartening.  Prison can be a mix of punishment or rehabilitation for the many inmates living within its walls.  For Mr. Perkins, his prison experience clearly lacks any signs of rehabilitation and, because of his continued and unrepentant criminal conduct, it will now be longer,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court:  Perkins laundered fraud proceeds while incarcerated in Jimmy Autry State Prison (“Autry”).  Autry is a Georgia Department of Correction (“GA DOC”) medium security prison located in Pelham, Georgia, that houses approximately 1,700 adult male inmates. 

While Perkins was an inmate at Autry, GA DOC inmates regularly obtained cellular telephones. For example, from 2014 to 2015, GA DOC officials seized more than 23,500 cellular telephones from inside Georgia state prisons. Many of the seized cellular telephones possessed Internet capabilities and the latest smartphone features. The possession of cellular telephones by GA DOC inmates creates a significant risk to prison security and to public safety, as GA DOC inmates used contraband cellular telephones to commit various criminal acts while incarcerated. 

Inmates used contraband cellular telephones from inside Autry to access Internet websites to identify the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of potential fraud victims. Using the cellular telephones, inmates called the victims whose names and numbers had been obtained. During these calls, the inmates made certain false representations to the victims, including: (a) that the inmates were law enforcement officials; (b) that the potential victims had unlawfully failed to appear for jury duty; (c) that because the potential victims had failed to appear for jury duty, warrants had been issued for the victims’ arrest; and (d) that the potential victims had a choice of being arrested on the warrants or pay fines to have the arrest warrants dismissed. To make the calls seem real, the inmates created fictitious voicemail greetings on their contraband cellular telephones, identifying themselves as members of legitimate law enforcement agencies.

For those victims who wanted to pay a fine, the inmates instructed them to purchase pre-paid cash cards and provide the account number of the cash card or wire money directly into a pre-paid debit card account held by the inmates. Based on these false representations, the victims electronically transferred money to the inmates because they believed that the funds would be used to pay the fine for failing to appear for jury duty and would result in the dismissal of the arrest warrant.

Perkins took the account number of the pre-paid cash card and contacted his co-conspirators, who were not incarcerated, to have those individuals transfer the money from the cash card purchased by the victims to a pre-paid debit card possessed by the co-conspirators. Next, the co-conspirators withdrew the victim’s money, which had been transferred to the pre-paid debit card they controlled, via an automated teller machine or at a retail store. Typically, the co-conspirators then laundered the stolen money by purchasing a new cash card so that the victims’ funds could be transferred back to the inmates. Perkins worked with about 100 individuals outside of the prison and laundered approximately $1 million in proceeds from fraud and other illegal schemes.

Reginald Perkins, 35, of Atlanta, Georgia pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering in a hearing before U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones.  Sentencing is scheduled for June 20, 2016.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Christopher J. Huber is prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

Topic: 
Public Corruption
Updated April 13, 2016