Wed | Dec 13, 2017

Alleged Jamaican lottery scammer to stand trial in US January

Published:Wednesday | August 23, 2017 | 8:51 AM

Alleged Jamaican lottery scammer, Gregory Gooden, is to go on trial in a federal court in North Dakota in the United States on January 22.

On August 1, Gooden pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering.  

He was extradited to the US from Jamaica in June.

Gooden is one of nine Jamaicans extradited in relation to the alleged lottery scamming scheme.

The others are all scheduled to stand trial on January 22.

Gooden’s co-accused have pleaded not guilty to similar charges and according to reports, Assistant US Attorney Clare Hochhalter has said plea deal talks are ongoing with many of them.

The man accused of masterminding the scheme, Lavrick Willocks, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in late July in a deal with prosecutors.

He’s yet to be sentenced.

Another suspect, Alrick McLeod, has reached a similar agreement and is expected to change his plea from not guilty on October 16.

US Magistrate Judge Charles Miller on Monday denied a request by McLeod's attorney for a detention hearing.

Miller cited the likelihood that McLeod will be imprisoned for his role in the scam, which authorities say cost at least 90 mostly elderly Americans more than US$5.7 million, including a North Dakota woman who lost her life savings in 2011 and sparked the investigation.

Authorities have dubbed the case 'Operation Hard Copy' in reference to lists of prospective victims' contact information used by scammers.

Fifteen people are charged.

Two are in Jamaica awaiting extradition, including one who was recently apprehended after being on the run for more than a year.

Two others remain fugitives.