Two Defendants Plead Guilty in a Nationwide Racketeering Conspiracy Targeting the Elderly
Assistant U. S. Attorney Oleksandra “Sasha” Johnson (619) 546-9769
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – March 9, 2022
SAN DIEGO – Two defendants charged in a nationwide “grandparent scam” have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Jack Owuor, 25, of Paramount, California pleaded guilty in federal court today. Timothy Ingram, 29, of North Hollywood, California, pleaded guilty on March 2, 2022.
According to court documents, the defendants were members and associates of a criminal enterprise that engaged in extortion and fraud to swindle more than $2 million from 70-plus elderly victims across the nation. At least 10 elderly San Diego County residents lost more than $300,000 to the fraud.
From approximately November 1, 2019, until October 14, 2020, the members of the criminal enterprise targeted elderly Americans, contacting them by phone and feeding them phony stories that their grandchildren were in legal trouble and needed money to pay for bail, pay medical expenses for car accident victims, or prevent additional charges from being filed, according to court documents. Members and associates obtained money from victims through in-person cash pick-ups, by mail or commercial carriers, or via wire transfers. Conspirators laundered the proceeds by transferring the funds or converting from fiat currency to cryptocurrency.
Ingram admitted in his plea agreement that he organized the criminal activity of at least five other participants, including codefendants Anajah Gifford and Jack Owuor. Ingram admitted that he recruited mules to receive transfers of money from victims, and to pick up cash from victims in California and elsewhere. As part of the guilty plea, Ingram agreed to forfeit $124,700 in proceeds from the offense. Ingram will also be subject to an order of restitution to the victims of the offense in the amount of at least $1,932,507.93.
Owuor admitted in his plea agreement that he conducted cash pick-ups from victims under Ingram’s direction, and later recruited women to pick up cash. In their phone messages, Ingram and Owuor discussed using female mules for cash pick ups to make “it more smooth.” As part of his guilty plea, Owuor agreed to forfeit $4,300 in proceeds he personally received from the offense, and pay at least $434,600 to the victims in restitution.
This case was investigated by the San Diego Elder Justice Task Force, which is a collaboration between the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the District Attorney’s Office and all San Diego County law enforcement agencies. The Elder Justice Task Force was established in February 2021 and is believed to be the first comprehensive law enforcement effort for this purpose anywhere in the country. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch.
“These defendants exploited the sacred bond between grandparent and grandchild and left many victims financially and emotionally traumatized,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “We will vigorously investigate and bring to justice those who prey on the elderly.” Grossman thanked the prosecution team, the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch and members of the San Diego Elder Justice Task Force for their excellent work on this case.
“The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch will pursue and prosecute individuals who systematically target elderly Americans by preying on their concern for loved ones,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We are grateful to our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California and the FBI for their work to advance the department’s efforts against organized elder fraud, and to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.”
“These guilty pleas are a prime example of the collaboration and coordination among our local, state, and federal partners who make up San Diego’s Elder Justice Task Force, and the great work being done to protect our elderly population,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner. “The task force is committed to aggressively pursuing criminal organizations who prey on our senior citizens, and will utilize all available investigative means to bring them to justice. I would also like to thank the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office for their continued support in this case.”
As of today, four of the eight defendants charged in the case are pending trial. Two defendants are fugitives and remain at large.
DEFENDANTS Case Number 21cr2216-CAB
Tracy Adrine Knowles 30 Orlando, Florida
Adonis Alexis Butler Wong 30 Northbay Village, Florida
Timothy Ingram, AKA Bleezy 29 North Hollywood, California
Sentencing set for May 27, 2022
Anajah Gifford 23 North Hollywood, California
Lyda Harris 74 Laveen, Arizona
Released on bond
Joaquin Lopez 46 Hollywood, Florida
Released on bond
Jack Owuor 25 Paramount, California
Released on bond.
Sentencing set for June 3, 2022
Tracy Glinton 35 Orlando, Florida
Released on bond
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 1962(d) – Conspiracy to Conduct or Participate in an Enterprise Through a Pattern of Racketeering Activity
Maximum penalty: Twenty years in prison and a fine of not more than the greater of twice the amount of gain or loss associated with the offense or $250,000
Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch
San Diego Elder Justice Task Force, which includes:
San Diego FBI
San Diego County District Attorney’s Office
San Diego Police Department
San Diego Sheriff’s Department
Carlsbad Police Department
Oceanside Police Department
Escondido Police Department
Chula Vista Police Department
El Cajon Police Department
La Mesa Police Department
National City Police Department
Coronado Police Department