The Valdosta Daily Times
A federal grand jury couldn’t dismiss all of the prosecution’s evidence against a pair of Lake Park residents and a Florida man who have been indicted in a fraud case.
Essentially, the case involves the siphoning of money from state child-support agencies through extortion of both custodial and non-custodial parents then laundering more than $665,000 in “love gifts” through Faith Landings Christian Center in Florida, according to the indictments issued by the Valdosta Division of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.
Investigators implicated Child Support Services of Atlanta, Inc., Child Support Services, Inc., McCoy & Associates, Inc., and Faith Landings Christian Center in an operation that was established no later than 2007, according to federal court records.
A federal indictment alleges that the three defendants were engaged in a business that collected child-support payment from both non-custodial under court order to pay child support as well as non-custodial parents who weren’t court ordered to pay. The defendants allegedly used various methods to identify both custodial and non-custodial parents through public records, search engines and telephone directories, according to the indictment.
The indictment further alleges the use of deceptive methods to coerce victims into signing contracts for collection services, diverting some away from a payment arrangement with the state, and accused the defendants of drafting documents that resembled those transmitted from state agencies.
Victims were harassed by phone, fax, and mail with threats of arrest warrants, license suspensions and wage garnishments, stated the indictment. Some of the fraudulent documents reportedly appeared as court summonses and others looked like official case reviews.
In some cases, state child-support agencies were reportedly contacted by defendants under the guise of their victims, in order to divert correspondence between the state and parents to an address managed by the suspects, stated the indictment.
Stuart C. Cole, 58, of St. Pete Beach, Fla., Mark C. Simpson, 50, of Lake Park, and Stephanie Simpson, 30, of Lake Park are indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud; conspiracy to commit extortion by interstate communication and mail, reports stated.
The mail and wire fraud charge is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment and the count of extortion carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison with a fine up to $250,000 possible for both charges, according to court records.
Mark Simpson and Cole also face charges of money laundering conspiracy, three counts of money laundering, and one count of obstruction of justice, according to reports.
Money laundering conspiracy is punishable by up to 20 years and a fine up to twice the amount laundered, while money laundering bears a sentence of up to 10 years and a possible fine of up to $250,000, reports stated. Obstruction of justice is punishable by up to 20 years and carries a possible fine up to $250,000, according to reports.
The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, United States Postal Inspection Service, along with the Georgia Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection, investigated this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert D. McCullers.