24 Defendants Plead Guilty to Murphy-Village Criminal Conspiracy
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that John U. Carroll, Ann Carroll, Courtney Carroll, Jay G. Carroll, Mary C. Carroll, Mary Rita Carroll, Ralph Carroll, Mary Gorman, Tina Gorman, Thomas Martin Mack, Rachel McNally, Billy O'Hara, Jim O'Hara, Winnie O'Hara, Hugh Riley, Melissa Riley, Tracy Riley, Betty Sherlock, M. Lisa Carroll Sherlock, Michael P. Sherlock, Patricia Sherlock, Patrick Sherlock, Sandra Sherlock, and Ann F. Sherlock, all of North Augusta, South Carolina, have entered guilty pleas in federal court in Columbia, to Criminal Conspiracy, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. United States District Judge J. Michelle Childs, of Columbia, accepted the guilty pleas and will impose sentences after she has reviewed the presentence reports prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that the defendants and others agreed to commit an array of criminal activities to make money and further this criminal conspiracy. This conspiracy includes both residents of an insular group in North Augusta, S.C., and outsiders. The insular group self describes themselves as travelers, live in a defined geographic location, have unique language and traditions, and are funded largely by the illegal activities. The travelers and certain outsiders —like car salesmen, insurance agents, and tax preparers – agreed to commit various types of crimes that included mail and wire fraud related to insurance applications, loan applications, and government benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, and tax refunds. Additionally, certain individuals participated in the interstate transportation of stolen items. Moreover, money that came into the conspiracy as a result of these criminal activities was laundered and structured to avoid reporting requirements.
U.S. Attorney Drake, in commending the collaborative efforts of law enforcement, added, “Over the past three years, agents from numerous local, state, and federal agencies worked together to conduct a joint investigation into this criminal enterprise in North Augusta. Today, twenty-four people accepted responsibility in federal court for their respective roles in this conspiracy. With today’s round of guilty pleas, that brings the total to approximately fifty people held accountable to date. This investigation and subsequent convictions should serve as both a reminder and notice to all that if you commit fraud, you will be brought to justice.” Each defendant faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
The case was investigated by agents of the FBI, the United States Marshals Service, IRS Criminal Investigations, the USDA Office of Inspector General-Investigations, the Postal Inspector’s Office, the South Carolina Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit, the Second Circuit Solicitor’s Office, Aiken County Sheriff’s Office and South Carolina Department of Social Services. Assistant United States Attorneys Jim May and Jay Richardson of the Columbia office are prosecuting the case.