Justice Department Finds Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections Violates the Constitution By Incarcerating People Beyond Their Release Dates
SHREVEPORT, La. - United States Attorney Brandon B. Brown announced that an Atlanta, Georgia man, who was an inmate serving time in the Georgia Department of Corrections at the time of his crimes, has pleaded guilty to a wire fraud conspiracy in the Western District of Louisiana. Andre Deaveon Reese, 32, entered his guilty plea before United States District Judge Donald E. Walter on January 28, 2022.
According to evidence presented to the court at the hearing, while serving time in the Autry State Prison (Autry) in Georgia in 2015, and continuing through July 2020, Reese participated in a scheme to defraud victims by telling them they had failed to appear for jury duty and a warrant had been issued for their arrest. To carry out this scheme, inmates used contraband cellular telephones from inside Autry to access internet websites to identify the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of potential fraud victims. Using the cellular telephones, inmates called the victims who name, and number had been obtained and made certain false misrepresentations to the victims. The inmates told the victims that they were law enforcement officials and that the victim had unlawfully failed to appear for jury duty. In addition, the victims were told that because they had failed to appear for jury duty, warrants had been issued for their arrest and the victim had a choice of being arrested on the warrant or pay a fine to have the arrest warrant dismissed.
To make the calls seem real, Reese, along with other inmates, created fictitious voicemail greetings on their contraband cellular telephones used by the inmates, identifying themselves as members of legitimate law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Marshal Service. For those victims who wanted to pay a fine, the inmates instructed them to purchase pre-paid cash cards and provide the account number of the cash card or the victim could wire money directly into a pre-paid debit card account held by the inmates or one of the co-conspirators. Based on these false representations, the victims electronically transferred money to the inmates because they believe that the funds would be used to pay the fine.
After a victim provided an inmate with the account number of the pre-paid cash card, the inmates then used their contraband cellular telephones to contact co-conspirators, who were not incarcerated, to have those individuals transfer the money from the cash card purchased by the victims to a pre-paid debit card possessed by the co-conspirators. The co-conspirators would then withdraw the victim’s money via an automated teller machine or at a retail store.
In August of 2016, two individuals, ages 75 and 78, living in the Western District of Louisiana, became victims of Reese’s scheme. The victims believed the callers, who were inmates posing as legitimate law enforcement officers, and followed their instructions to pay them to have the alleged warrants for their arrest for failing to appear for jury duty dismissed. An investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) determined that the two victims paid $9,797.95 to Reese and his co-conspirators.
“Unfortunately, there are individuals such as this defendant who have no shame in taking advantage of people who are trusting,” stated U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown. “We encourage the public that when someone calls and gives you a story such as this to be cautious and contact your local law enforcement office to confirm that the story is true before you agree to pay any money to anyone. Our office will continue to investigate and pursue individuals who carry out these types of fraudulent schemes.”
Reese faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. The sentencing hearing for Reese has been set for May 20, 2022.
The case was investigated by the FBI and U.S. Marshal Service, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary J. Mudrick.
The National Elder Fraud Hotline is a resource created by OVC for people to report fraud against anyone age 60 or older. Reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible, and within the first 2-3 days, can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is open 7 days a week. For more information about the hotline please visit: https://stopelderfraud.ovc.ojp.gov/.
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