Seven indicted for operation of sham charity
MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – A federal grand jury has charged seven Eastern Panhandle residents with operating a fraudulent charity that generated millions of dollars in illegal revenue, United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced.
Brent Jackson, 45; Steve Crites, 45; James M. Crites, 72; Betty Crites, 68; Kristy Vanduzer, 43; Larry Webster, 68; and James R. "Jay" Crites, 37, all of Martinsburg, West Virginia were named in each count of a 53-count indictment returned on Tuesday and unsealed on Wednesday.
According to the indictment, the defendants operated illegal bingo and raffle games for a fraudulent charity known as Kids Against Drugs of W.V., Inc., and doing business as “Big Bucks Bingo." The games were purportedly arranged to benefit the Fraternal Order of Police #83 and the Berkeley County Humane Society but the defendants are alleged to have retained ninety percent or more of the revenue generated. The defendants also are alleged to have transferred funds generated during the bingo and raffle games to various commercial bank accounts in order to benefit themselves or businesses in which they had a personal interest.
According to Ihlenfeld, seizure warrants have been served upon bank accounts belonging to Kids Against Drugs of W.V., Inc., S&B Berkeley, LLC, and Berkeley Plaza, LLC, in order to freeze the funds contained in said accounts and to forfeit any funds traceable to federal criminal violations.
The defendants are each charged with fifteen counts of “Mail Fraud,” eighteen counts of “Money Laundering,” eighteen counts of “Illegal Monetary Transactions,” one count of "Money Laundering Conspiracy", and one count of “Illegal Gambling.”
The defendants face up to twenty years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for each mail fraud count; up to twenty years in prison and a fine up to $500,000 for the money laundering conspiracy count; up to twenty years in prison and a fine up to $500,000 for each money laundering count; up to ten years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for each monetary transactions count; and up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for the gambling count.
Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
"Today’s indictments and arrests are the result of collaborative efforts to assure the residents of the Martinsburg area that law enforcement is vigilant at safeguarding their interests. Those who find ways to fraudulently benefit from non-profit organizations will be brought to justice,” said Thomas Jankowski, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office. “With both law enforcement and financial investigation expertise, IRS-CI agents are uniquely qualified to assist our law enforcement partners with these types of cases by following the money.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul T. Camilletti is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government, and the matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS Criminal Investigation.
An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.