Three area people, including an inmate at the Jennings Correctional Facility, were indicted on multiple fraud counts involving a conspiracy to commit various fraudulent schemes, including check-kiting, which they term as “piggybacking.” Check-kiting occurs when an individual takes advantage of the small window of time between when checks are deposited into an account and the financial institution upon which the checks are drawn provides notice to the depositing institution that the check will not be honored.
According to the indictment, the purpose of the conspiracy was to open bank accounts at Bank of America and U.S. Bank and use an existing account at Regions Bank to deposit worthless checks. They disbursed from the artificially inflated accounts through cash and ATM withdrawals, writing checks and making debit card purchases before the worthless checks were determined to be invalid by Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Regions Bank. Taion Brown and Pierre Watson recruited Justice Carter and other individuals to open bank accounts and provide checks from existing accounts in exchange for payment for their participation in the scheme to defraud Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Regions Bank.
Taion Brown, St. Louis, MO, and Pierre Watson, St. Louis, MO, were indicted by a federal grand jury on August 3 on one felony count each of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, three felony counts of bank fraud and one felony count of aggravated identity theft. Justice Carter, St. Louis, MO, was indicted on one felony count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud and one felony count of bank fraud.
If convicted, each count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud and bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and/or fines up to $1 million. Aggravated identity theft is a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other term of imprisonment. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and St. Louis County Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Berry is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.