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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Miami Man Pleads Guilty in Lucrative Fraud Scheme involving Cell Phones

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.

Samuel T. Johnson pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge W. Scott Hardy.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that over the course of two years Johnson was able to fraudulently obtain in excess of 1,500 new, in-box cellular devices and resell them on the illicit market. Through various means, Johnson was able to compromise existing Verizon accounts and charge the devices to them. Afterwards, arrangements were made to have the purloined devices shipped to various Apple Stores and other third-party vendors. Johnson and others would then retrieve the devices from the vendors and resell them. In order to conceal the illicit source of the money Johnson made from selling the devices, he and others engaged in currency structuring. When Johnson’s apartment was searched, federal agents recovered $619,184.00 in cash and over 50 pieces of jewelry and high-end wristwatches. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Johnson agreed to forfeit a Lamborghini Urus; $619,184.00; and 60 pieces of gold and diamond jewelry .

Judge Hardy scheduled sentencing for Jan. 11, 2022. The law provides for a total sentence of 40 years in prison, a fine of $$750,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court committed Jonson to the custody of the United States Marshals Service.

Assistant United States Attorney Michael Leo Ivory is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Johnson.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated August 25, 2021