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Four more guilty pleas in large Jamaican lottery scam in the US

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Four more suspects in October either pleaded guilty or agreed to do so in a large-scale Jamaican lottery scam in the U.S., leaving just five of the 15 defendants still scheduled for trial in January.

Dario Palmer, Alrick McLeod and Kazrae Gray all pleaded guilty to conspiracy under deals with federal prosecutors, while Kimberly Hudson signed a deal and is scheduled to plead guilty Nov. 20. Authorities say all four are from Jamaica.

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Prosecutors say this is believed to be the first large-scale Jamaican lottery scam prosecuted in the U.S. Authorities allege the scam bilked at least 90 Americans out of more than $5.7 million. It’s being prosecuted in North Dakota, where authorities began investigating after a woman lost her life savings of more than $300,000 in 2011.

The suspects are accused of calling victims about bogus lottery winnings, persuading them to send advance fees to receive the purported winnings, then keeping the money without paying out anything to the victims.

Two suspects remain fugitives. Thirteen others have been arrested and brought to the U.S. to face charges. Six of them have pleaded guilty in the past four months, including Lavrick Willocks, the man accused of being the kingpin. A seventh is negotiating terms of a deal.

In return for the guilty pleas, the government is dropping fraud and money laundering counts. The government also will recommend restitution for victims. No sentencing dates have been set.

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