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Early Release Scam Results in Arrests

The FBI has arrested two men in an unusual and brazen plot to defraud prisoners and their families out of tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for reduced sentences.

Monterro Paul, who previously served time in federal prison for counterfeiting and drug charges, allegedly told an FBI agent that he could help prisoners get reduced sentences by setting up drug dealers to be arrested. Paul, who claimed to be with the DEA, asked for fees of up to $200,000 for arranging the sentence reductions.

According to Paul, when the drug dealers he set up were arrested, the prisoners would get credit for providing information that resulted in the busts. The credit would be in the form of a motion under Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which allows the government to reduce a prisoner’s sentence for snitching.

Paul was arrested at the Jackson, Mississippi airport on December 4, 2009 along with his accomplice, Mark Amos. Paul and Amos had just finished meeting with an undercover FBI agent and reportedly took $15,000 as a down payment for the scam. Amos’ role was to tell prisoners that Paul had helped him get out of prison early using the same method. Amos was only telling a half-truth, though. He had been released early for cooperating with authorities in 2005, but it was not due to anything that Paul did. Paul and Amos met while serving time together in a federal prison in Texas.

According to FBI agent Jeremy Turner, Amos – unlike Paul – never claimed to be a DEA agent, although he too was charged with impersonating a federal officer. Paul allegedly convinced Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) staff at FCI Yazoo City that he was a DEA agent, and was allowed to talk with prisoners at the facility on several occasions. It is unclear what those conversations entailed.

Oddly enough, Paul himself was once a DEA informant. Both Paul and Amos are being held without bond. A new indictment was issued against the pair in February 2010, alleging that they had scammed $75,000 from one prisoner’s family and $15,000 from another. They apparently did not obtain any of the promised sentence reductions.

Source: Associated Press

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