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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Altoona Man Pleads Guilty in $1 Million Fraud Scheme and Failed to Pay Taxes

PITTSBURGH, PA - A resident of Blair County, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court in Pittsburgh on charges of tax evasion and wire fraud, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Patrick S. LaMarsh, age 40, of Altoona, pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon.

In connection with the guilty plea, between 2011 and 2013, LaMarsh defrauded TracFone and Walmart by selling fraudulently obtained Straight Talk airtime cards on According to the information provided to the court, LaMarsh fraudulently re-encoded Straight Talk prepaid wireless cards and sold them for a discount, netting in excess of one million dollars in sales. LaMarsh used the proceeds to buy precious metals and a recreational vehicle. In addition, LaMarsh deposited proceeds into nominee bank accounts to conceal income.

Judge Bissoon scheduled the sentencing for June 24, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of five years’ imprisonment for each count of conviction for tax evasions, and 20 years imprisonment for each count of conviction for wire fraud, a fine of $4,750,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Gregory C. Melucci is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations and United States Secret Service conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.

Financial Fraud
Updated February 6, 2020