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PRESS RELEASE: More Than 50 Individuals Charged in Massive Corruption, Fraud And Money Laundering Schemes Operated from inside Georgia State Prisons

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Georgia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 21, 2016

More Than 50 Individuals Charged in Massive Corruption, Fraud And Money Laundering Schemes Operated from inside Georgia State Prisons

ATLANTA – Numerous Georgia Department of Corrections employees, inmates and individuals outside the prison system have been charged federally with conspiring to commit wire fraud, conspiring to commit money laundering, and accepting bribes to smuggle contraband into Georgia prisons. Much of the alleged criminal activity was committed inside Georgia state prisons and was initiated by inmates.

“The indictments allege that inmates managed and directed a number of elaborate fraud schemes that victimized citizens from across the country from within the Georgia prison system using contraband cell phones,” said U.S. Attorney John A. Horn. “Since September 2015, we have charged 75 people with criminal conduct that is initiated from within state prisons. The unfortunate common denominator to this criminal conduct is the pervasive availability of contraband cell phones, which allows too many prison inmates to continue victimizing our communities while serving their sentences.”

“Prisons should be a deterrent for individuals on both sides of its walls. Acquiring cell phones and smart phones have, however, emboldened current and former inmates and their associates to engage in criminal conduct with a perceived impunity from law enforcement officials. In many of these cases, the corrections officers themselves facilitated the introduction of the prohibited cell phones into the prisons, thereby allowing these criminal enterprises to continue and even expand. The FBI will continue to pursue investigations involving public corruption as seen here and will continue to work with its Georgia Department of Corrections partners in addressing these and other problems posed by the illegal introduction of cell phones within the confines of prison walls,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the indictment, and other information presented in court: The Georgia Department of Corrections (“GA DOC”) is the agency responsible for overseeing the operations of the Georgia state prison system and its more than 50,000 inmates. Jimmy Autry State Prison (“Autry”) is a GA DOC prison located in Pelham, Georgia. Autry is a medium security prison that houses approximately 1,700 adult male inmates.

Under the Official Code of Georgia § 42-5-18, it is unlawful to give an incarcerated GA DOC inmate a cellular telephone and it is unlawful for a GA DOC inmate to possess a cellular telephone while incarcerated. Accordingly, within the GA DOC prison system, cellular telephones are considered to be contraband.

Nevertheless, GA DOC inmates regularly obtained cellular telephones while incarcerated. For example, from 2014 to 2015, GA DOC officials seized more than 23,500 cellular telephones from inside Georgia state prisons. Many of the seized cellular telephones possessed Internet capabilities and the latest smartphone features. Frequently, the seized cellular telephones were smuggled into GA DOC prisons by correctional officers or other prison employees. The possession of cellular telephones by GA DOC inmates creates a significant risk to prison security and to public safety, as GA DOC inmates used contraband cellular telephones to commit various criminal acts while incarcerated. The indictments also allege that correctional officers smuggled other contraband into Autry, such as tobacco products and drugs in exchange for bribes.

Inmates allegedly 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 whose names and numbers had been obtained. During these calls, the inmates made certain false representations to the victims, including: (a) that the inmates were law enforcement officials; (b) that the potential victims had unlawfully failed to appear for jury duty; (c) that because the potential victims had failed to appear for jury duty, warrants had been issued for the victims’ arrest; and (d) that the potential victims had a choice of being arrested on the warrants or pay fines to have the arrest warrants dismissed. To make the calls seem real, the inmates created fictitious voicemail greetings on their contraband cellular telephones, identifying themselves as members of legitimate law enforcement agencies.

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 wire money directly into a pre-paid debit card account held by the inmates. Based on these false representations, the victims electronically transferred money to the inmates because they believed that the funds would be used to pay the fine for failing to appear for jury duty and would result in the dismissal of the arrest warrant.

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. Next, the co-conspirators withdrew the victim’s money, which had been transferred to the pre-paid debit card they controlled, via an automated teller machine or at a retail store. Typically, the co-conspirators then laundered the stolen money by purchasing a new cash card so that the victims’ funds could be transferred back to the inmates.

In connection with these schemes, a federal grand jury has returned multiple indictments charging the following individuals:

Shalonda Baker, 33, of Bainbridge, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to accept bribe payments to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Leanna Bearden, 25, of Cairo, Georgia, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

Iesha Bell, 25, of Waco, Texas, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

Austin Bradley, a/k/a “Red,” 22, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Ashley Butler, 28, of Macon, Georgia, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

Karhary Campbell, 37, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud, to commit money laundering, and to bribe correctional officers to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Toccara Cantrell, 30, of Gainesville, Georgia, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

Cellie Clark, 35, of Lynchburg, Virginia, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering, and money laundering.

Jokelera Copeland, 28, of Doerun, Georgia, a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to accept bribe payments to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Jonathan Jamaal Daniels, 22, of Camilla, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with accepting bribe payments to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Willa Davis, 60, of Las Vegas, Nevada, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

Tyler Dickens, 22, of Bainbridge, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison and formerly an Early County Sheriff’s Deputy, has been charged with conspiring to accept bribe payments to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Renaldo Freeman, 30, of Pelham, Georgia, a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to accept bribe payments to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Caeser Futch, 36, of Lithonia, Georgia, a paroled inmate from Autry and Phillips State Prisons, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

Dayia Gilbert, 23, Camilla, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to accept bribe payments to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Keri Hatcher, 29, of Aurora, Colorado, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

Chameta Isom, 32, of Camilla, Georgia, a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to accept bribe payments to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Bettie Jones, 53, of Dawson, Georgia, has been charged with conspiring to bribe correctional officers at Autry State Prison to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Brian Kennedy, 25, of Thomasville, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with accepting bribe payments to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Laporshia Knight, 40, of Macon, Georgia, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

Ricky Knight, a/k/a “Slick,” 36, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud, to commit money laundering, and to bribe correctional officers to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Melissa Lloyd, 35, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

Jessee Lopez, a/k/a “Loco,” 37, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud, to commit money laundering, and to bribe Correctional Officers to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Calvin Martin, 21, of Albany, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to accept bribe payments to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Amber Mayes, 29, of Dublin, Georgia, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

Sharron McCoy, a/k/a “Ron G,” 26, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud, to commit money laundering, and to bribe correctional officers to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Cassaundra McGhee, 45, of McDonough, Georgia, has been charged with conspiring to bribe correctional officers to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Tadia Mercer, 41, of Leesburg, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with extortion under color of official right.

Kiatya Milton, 42, of Sylvester, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Tangela Parks, 33, of Lithonia, Georgia, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

Steven Patterson, 29, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Reginald Perkins, 35, of Atlanta, Georgia, a paroled inmate from Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

David Pinder, a/k/a “Wolf,” 30, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Anthony Powell, a/k/a “Bo,” 39, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with wire fraud, conspiring to commit money laundering, and money laundering.

Aida Rosa, 27, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

Anthony Sanders, a/k/a “Stick ‘em Up,” 25, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Terrance Shields, a/k/a “DK,” 41, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Clifford Smalls, a/k/a “D Boy,” 31, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with wire fraud and money laundering.

Shameik Spinks, 22, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to bribe correctional officers to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Shebrikia Stewart, 28, of Albany, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to accept bribe payments to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Joseph Tate, Jr., a/k/a “Cool,” 34, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Edward Townsend, 40, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

Derrick Watson, 36, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Veronica Watters, 38, Atlanta, was charged with conspiring to have contraband smuggled into the prison.

Douglas Welch, 34, of Cordele, Georgia, has been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering and conspiring to bribe correctional officers to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Benjamin Williams, a/k/a “Ohio,” 24, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

Quintavious Williams, 20, of Dawson, Georgia, has been charged with conspiring to bribe corrections officers to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Shameka Williams, 31, of Albany, Georgia, a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with accepting bribe payments in exchange for not reporting criminal acts of other Corrections Officers.

Christina Wilson, 34, of Albany, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to accept bribe payments to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Ermesha Wingfield, 25, of Albany, Georgia, formerly a Correctional Officer at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to bribe Correctional Officers to smuggle contraband into the prison.

Rokei Winston, a/k/a “Double R,” 32, formerly an inmate at Autry State Prison, has been charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

In total, 15 current or former Autry correctional officers, 19 current or former GA DOC inmates, and 17 individuals have been charged by the grand jury in the fraud and bribery schemes.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictments only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

These cases are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Department of Corrections Office of Professional Standards.

Assistant United States Attorneys Brent Gray, Shanya Dingle, John Ghose, Steven Grimberg, Nicolas Hartigan, Christopher Huber, Jennifer Keen, Brian Pearce, William Traynor, and Mary Webb are prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.govEmail links icon or (404) 581-6016.

About FREDERICA CADE

Most of the information you will see comes from some Federal/state Government documents or Federal/State Governm Agency. -----------------------------------------------The fellow that can only see a week ahead is always the popular fellow, for he is looking with the crowd. But the one that can see years ahead, he has a telescope but he can't make anybody believe that he has it. ~~~~Will Rogers __The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.~ Albert Einstein ~"I never work better than when I am inspired by anger; for when I am angry, I can write, pray, and preach well, for then my whole temperament is quickened, my understandingsharpen​ed, and all mundane vexations and temptations depart.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. _________________________________________________________________________________________ ~"The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment".~___________________________________ George Washington, Address to the Members of the Volunteer Association of Ireland, December 2, 1783 Fredericacade@gmail.com

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