Last conspirator in Maryland to Florida bank fraud scheme pleads guilty in federal court

Last conspirator in Maryland to Florida bank fraud scheme pleads guilty in federal court
Posted at 5:21 PM, Oct 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-18 17:31:01-04

The last of 14 conspirators federally indicted for traveling to Maryland to help perpetrate a more than $1 million bank fraud pleaded guilty in federal court, the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland said. 

Kevin Williams, 43, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., pleaded guilty to federal charges of bank fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft for his role as part of the “Felony Lane Gang’s” scheme. As part of his plea, Williams must pay restitution no more than $550,000. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for the conspiracy charges, and a mandatory two years in prison for aggravated identity theft, which would be served consecutively. 

According to the guilty plea and court documents, the gang perpetuated the scam from Sept. 2012 to July 2015. Members of the group traveled to Maryland and other states, stealing wallets and purses from cars parked at gyms, fitness centers, sports fields, recreation areas, and other places. The gang would then use the stolen ID's, checks and credit cards to make fraudulent financial transactions. 

Two to four ”managers“ would travel with one to six ”strikers“ (or ”faces“) who would pass fraudulent checks. Williams and his co-conspirators would recruit vulnerable people like prostitutes and drug dealers, to act as those “faces,” paying them in drugs, food, or small amounts of cash, typically fractions of what the fraudulent checks would yield. A “manager” and a “striker” would go to banks to cash the stolen checks, with the striker posing as the victim and the manager scoping out the transaction and acting as a look out. While in Maryland, the crew hit banks in areas including Columbia, Millersville, and Edgewater.

The group would travel through Maryland and other locations, executing a number of thefts and transactions over several days or weeks until banks or law enforcement would stop the scheme. The group traveled in rental cars and stayed in hotels, at times using their victim’s credit cards and IDs to secure their reservations.

Gang members would then return to Florida or move to another location, burying stolen goods they had not yet used. They would wait a few weeks or months until after scrutiny of their activity faded and then return to Maryland to put those buried items to use.

Williams will be sentenced Jan. 15, 2019. Of the other 13 defendants who already pleaded guilty to related cases, nine have been sentenced to terms between time served and 54 months in federal prison, including:

  • Courtney B. Walker, a/k/a Wayne Leo Walker, 28, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
  • James J. Blakey, a/k/a Jamal, 29, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Vincent Lee Sands, a/k/a Young SP, and Chad, age 26, of Lauderhill, Fla.
  • Tara Kathleen Whyte, 29, of Hollywood, Florida, and Gambrills, Md.
  • Tracy Lee Whyte, a/k/a Nikki, 34, of Hollywood and Gambrills, Md.
  • Shannon Elise Isley, 29, of Sunrise, Fla.
  • Lauren Anne Bole, 28, of Miramar, Fla.
  • Felicia Kaye Waybright, a/k/a Felicia Kaye Phillips, 25, of Daytona Beach, Fla.
  • Amie Nicole Carter, 32, of Casselberry, Fla.

Co-conspirators Heather Brooke Roberts, 45, of Perry, Ohio, and Michael J. Walker, 44, of Pompano Beach, Fla. and Perry, Ohio, are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 2, 2018. Theodore L. Pittman, a/k/a Teddy, Tony, and Bear, 32, of Lauderhill, Fla., and Ronald Jason Rhoda, a/k/a Jason Rhoda, 43, of Hollywood, Fla., have yet to have their sentencing scheduled.