COLUMBIA, SC (WFXG) - Twenty-four members of the Irish Traveler community in North Augusta pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to their roles in the Murphy Village criminal conspiracy.
John U. Carroll, Ann Carroll, Courtney Carroll, Jay G. Carroll, Mary C. Carroll, Mary Rita Carroll, Ralph Carroll, Mary Gorman, Tina Gorman, Thomas Martin Mack, Rachel McNally, Billy O'Hara, Jim O'Hara, Winnie O'Hara, Hugh Riley, Melissa Riley, Tracy Riley, Betty Sherlock, M. Lisa Carroll Sherlock, Michael P. Sherlock, Patricia Sherlock, Patrick Sherlock, Sandra Sherlock, and Ann F. Sherlock, all of North Augusta, pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy. Their pleas were accepted by U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs.
Judge Childs will sentence the co-conspirators after she has reviewed presentence reports. Each defendant faces a fine of $250,000 and up to five years in federal prison.
The defendants, along with others outside their community such as car salespersons, insurance agents, and tax preparers, conspired to commit a variety of crimes in order to make money and further the conspiracy. Included in the list of criminal activities they committed are mail and wire fraud related to insurance applications, loan applications, and government benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, and tax refunds. Some individuals participated in transporting stolen goods over state lines. Money brought into the community via these criminal means was laundered to avoid reporting requirements.
U.S. Attorney Beth Drake Drak says, "Over the past three years, agents from numerous local, state, and federal agencies worked together to conduct a joint investigation into this criminal enterprise in North Augusta. Today, twenty-four people accepted responsibility in federal court for their respective roles in this conspiracy. With today's round of guilty pleas, that brings the total to approximately fifty people held accountable to date. This investigation and subsequent convictions should serve as both a reminder and notice to all that if you commit fraud, you will be brought to justice."
Back in Aug. 2016, twenty-two Irish Travelers were indicted on similar charges.