Inmates Charged with Orchestrating Mail and Wire Fraud Scheme from Federal Prison
Four individuals have been charged in connection with a fraud scheme orchestrated from the Federal Detention Center in Miami, Florida.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney for Miami-Dade County, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), and Mark Overton, Chief, Bal Harbour Police Department, made the announcement.
James Sabatino, 39, of Miami, George Duquen, 53, of Davie, Valerie Kay Hunt, 53, of Davie, and Denise Siksha Lewis, 35, of North Lauderdale, were charged by indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349, 1341, and 1343.
During the course of the alleged conspiracy, Sabatino and Duquen were incarcerated together at the Federal Detention Center in Miami, Florida. According to publicly filed court documents, Sabatino created several e-mail addresses for the purpose of impersonating employees of Sony Music Entertainment, a recorded music company.
Using the alias “James Prolima,” Sabatino contacted several luxury store employees and brand representatives via telephone calls, e-mails, and text messages. During those communications, Sabatino pretended to be an employee of Sony Music Entertainment and RocNation, a recorded music company founded by a prominent recording artist.
According to the indictment, Sabatino requested that the luxury store employees and brand representatives send retail items such as handbags, wristwatches, apparel, and jewelry to various locations in South Florida. Sabatino claimed the retail items would be featured in music videos and promotional materials that were being filmed and produced in Miami, Florida.
According to court records, Sabatino directed luxury store employees and brand representatives to ship the retail items to co-defendants Hunt and Lewis. From prison, Sabatino and co-defendant Duquen directed Hunt and Lewis to sell the items at South Florida pawn shops and elsewhere.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, BSO, and the Bal Harbour Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Browne.
An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.