Architect of multi-million-dollar education fraud involving scuba dive shops sentenced to years in federal prison
BRUNSWICK, GA: The leader of an elaborate multi-state fraud and identity theft ring has been sentenced to federal prison.
Kenson Hunte, 39, of Canton, Ga., was sentenced to 34 months in prison after pleading guilty to Possession with Intent to Use Five or More False Identification Documents, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood also ordered Hunte to pay restitution of $104,347.16, and to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Hunte led his codefendants into a theft and fraud scheme for no purposes other than to enrich themselves at the expense of innocent victims,” said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “Prison time and the payment of substantial restitution will help hold him accountable for his crimes.”
Three codefendants – Sheryl Henderson, 39, of Norcross, Ga.; Colby Hart, 27, of Vidalia, Ga.; and Monique Laing, 23, of Atlanta – previously entered guilty pleas for their involvement in the scheme and have been sentenced.
With Hunte and the other two as passengers, Henderson was driving on State Road 27 in Glynn County on March 6, 2019, when a Georgia State Patrol trooper pulled her over for speeding. During a subsequent search, troopers found 44 fake driver’s licenses and identification cards appearing to have been issued in various states, with all of the cards using the personal information of other individuals.
Evidence presented in court showed that beginning in or about January 2019 through May 2019 in Jefferson County, in the Northern District of Alabama, Hunte and a co-conspirator used the fraudulently created identification cards to purchase cell phones and network contracts through a third-party retailer in a Wal-Mart store in Homewood, Ala. Hunte paid only a percentage of the cost up front for the phones and contracts, fraudulently purchasing approximately 127 phones.
The conspirator received employee commissions from the retailer and kickbacks from Hunte, while Hunte profited from the black market sale of the fraudulently obtained phones. The total loss amount from the conspiracy is $104,347.16 – the amount Hunte is ordered to repay.
“This sentence is the result of the determination and hard work of federal, state, and local investigators who aggressively pursue identity theft,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI will continue to work hard to pursue any individual who greedily puts innocent people at financial risk for their own personal gain.”
The cases were investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Georgia State Patrol, with assistance from the Brunswick Police Department and the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office, and prosecuted for the United States by Southern District of Georgia Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Bearden and Northern District of Alabama Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin B. Mark.
Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer: 912-652-4422