Prosecutors: Jamaican lottery sentence should send message

AP News
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Posted: Nov 23, 2015 5:54 PM

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a man convicted in a Jamaican lottery scam that bilked people in the Dakotas and elsewhere out of millions of dollars deserves a stiff penalty, partly for a lack of cooperation and remorse that included faking a seizure at an evidentiary hearing in September.

Sanjay Williams, 26, is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in Bismarck. Investigators say he was one of two key players in an operation that defrauded mostly elderly people out of their life savings. The victims included a North Dakota woman who said she was scammed out of $300,000 after someone called and told her she had won $19 million and a new car, and a South Dakota couple who lost most of their reserves after being told they had won $3.5 million, a Mercedes-Benz and a year's worth of Geico car insurance.

A jury in May found Williams guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering. Prosecutors say Williams deserves a sentence on the high end of the federal guideline range, which would likely be about 25 to 30 years depending on Judge Daniel Hovland's calculations.

"This case involves a unique kind of victimization," Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Chase wrote in court documents. "It is an assault of victims' trust and dreams, in addition to their pocket books. Short of a violent physical attack, it is difficult to imagine how Sanjay Williams could more thoroughly devastate and traumatize people."

Williams has filed dozens of letters to the court complaining about the proceedings and has argued with both his own lawyer and judge on several occasions. Chase noted in documents that Williams attempted to "manipulate the system with numerous courtroom stunts, displays and delays — most recently and dramatically, interrupting and disrupting a hearing, then faking a seizure."

Defense attorney Charlie Stock has submitted written objections to the government's sentencing recommendations, but the document is not public and he would not give details.

"I otherwise do not plan on filing a sentencing memorandum, as Judge Hovland is obviously well-versed on this case, and I am confident he will hand down a sentence that is fair and reasonable to Mr. Williams under the circumstances," Stock said in a statement.

Investigators describe Williams and Lavrick Willocks as leaders of two separate scamming operations based in Jamaica. Prosecutors say more than 70 of the victims of Willocks and Williams have been identified and their losses are at least $5.5 million. Willocks has been charged but not extradited to the United States.


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