Georgia Prisoner Pleads Guilty to Phone Scam
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that Jay Byron Wright, age 42, of the Calhoun State Prison in Morgan, Georgia, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, § 1349. Judge Mary Geiger Lewis accepted the plea and will sentence Wright at a later date.
Evidence presented at the hearing established that Jay Byron Wright and other prisoners called citizens of Oregon using a cell phone smuggled into their prison, told the Oregonians they were in contempt of court for not showing up for jury duty, and that they owed the court money. The Oregonians could pay this money by obtaining Money Pak Green Dot cards for the specified value and providing the numbers on the cards to the callers. The numbers gave the callers access to the value on the card, which could then be transferred onto other Green Dot cards. At least three people in Oregon fell for this scam, and they transferred values slightly less than $1,000 to cards used by various co-conspirators in South Carolina.
The maximum penalty faced by Wright is imprisonment for twenty years, with a potential fine up to $250,000.
The Deschutes County (Oregon) Sheriff’s Office and SLED (South Carolina) investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Winston David Holliday, Jr., of the Columbia office is prosecuting the case.