Cincinnati woman sentenced to 57 months for conspiracy to defraud retail stores

COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - A Cincinnati, Ohio woman was sentenced to 57 months in prison for her role in a conspiracy that defrauded popular retail stores in 15 states, including Kentucky, out more than $200,000.

U.S. District Court Judge Danny C. Reeves sentenced Alysia R. Elliott, 29, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Elliott will have to serve 85 percent of her sentence and will be on supervised release for three years following the completion of her prison term.

According to court documents, Elliott was part of a conspiracy in which she and nine other people used fraudulent checks to purchase merchandise at Walmart, Kohl's, Target, and Meijer stores located in Kentucky (Campbell, Boone, Fayette and Jefferson counties), Ohio, Virginia, New Jersey, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Iowa and Wisconsin. Some conspiracy members returned items for cash at branch stores different from the one where they made the original purchase.

From February 2008 through December of 2010, members of the conspiracy, nine of which are from Cincinnati, passed checks at the retail stores knowing the checks were backed by insufficient funds.

They persuaded the store clerks to process the worthless checks as traveler's checks to avoid the normal security procedures that occur when processing a standard check. In some instances members of the conspiracy stole checks from an innocent person and used them to purchase merchandise.

The retail stores suffered a total loss of approximately $218,816.68. according to court documents.

Elliott admitted that she worked with conspiracy leaders Victoria Conlon, 28, and John C. Elliott, 29, to recruit others into the conspiracy and train them. She also acknowledged that she operated a fraudulent checking account and passed a large number of fraudulent checks used in the conspiracy.

Of the ten people charged in the wire fraud conspiracy, all the defendants except one have pleaded guilty. The defendants who have pled guilty will be required to pay restitution to the retail stores and banks that they defrauded.

Melissa J. Carter, 34, was sentenced to 37 months for her role in the scheme on September 8. Conspiracy leaders Conlon and John Elliott are set to be sentenced in November. They face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The other members of the conspiracy include Mary D. Wilder, Melinda S. Davidson, Breanne E. Reilley, Troy J. Watts, Curtis J. Jordan of Kenton County and Morgan E. Stone. Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Mark A. Porter, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, jointly made the announcement Wednesday.

The investigation was conducted by the United States Secret Service. The United States was represented in the case by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Voorhees.

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