BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The mother of a Jamaican man who authorities say masterminded a large-scale lottery scam in the U.S. has agreed to plead guilty in the case.
Prosecutors say the scheme operated out of the mansion that Dahlia Hunter shared with her son in Kingston, Jamaica, bilking at least 90 Americans out of more than $5.7 million.
Hunter and prosecutors finalized an agreement Monday under which she will plead guilty next Wednesday to conspiracy, and the government will drop dozens of fraud and money laundering counts.
The deal is similar to those reached by numerous other defendants in the case, including Hunter's son, Lavrick Willocks, who authorities say was the scam's kingpin. He is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in July.
Willocks told U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland during his plea hearing that he got involved in lottery scams in October 2009 when he returned to Jamaica after getting a college degree in the U.S., and that he wanted to help his mother through financial problems.
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.
The scam began to unravel when a woman in North Dakota lost her life savings of more than $300,000 in 2011. A federal investigation resulted in charges against 27 people, including a current block of 15 suspects who are still being prosecuted in North Dakota.
Two of the 15 are still fugitives in Jamaica. Seven others have pleaded guilty, including Willocks' girlfriend, Kimberly Hudson, who did so late last month. Hunter and another suspect are set to plead guilty next week, leaving just four suspects still scheduled for trial in January.
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