Thrice-convicted Semmes man charged with masterminding elaborate fraud from prison

Adrian Lacey accused of using smuggled phones to store identity theft data, communicate with co-conspirators
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 10:39 AM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A man previously convicted of tax fraud and defrauding the BP oil spill fund has been charged with masterminding an elaborate scheme – while he still was in prison – to defraud a COVID-19 relief program.

Adrian Lemoyne Lacey, 44, is one of six people named in the 29-count federal indictment. He is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy and aggravated identify theft.

It is one of biggest and widest-ranging COVID fraud cases in southwest Alabama investigated by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General. It includes dozens of charges and hundreds of thousands of dollars in seized cash and bank accounts.

The Semmes man’s federal criminal record dates to 2002 when a judge sentenced him to five years and three months in prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine. In 2012, a judge sentenced him to three years and 10 months in prison for mail fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, set up to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Then in 2014, a judge sentenced him to eight years and 10 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to use stolen identities to file fraudulent state and federal income tax returns. A judge this month issued an arrest warrant for Lacey days before he was scheduled to end his federal sentence in the income tax case.

It was while Lacey still was in prison for that offense, prosecutors allege, when he used smuggled cell phones to store and maintain stolen identity information and to communicate with co-defendants Latoria Jeanette Walker, Ura Clerk, Victoria McConkey and others.

Lacey stands accused of using the stolen identity of a person identified as “V.O.” in court documents and Clear Choice Home Medical Equipment & Supplies to open an account at BB&T Bank, which received a disbursement of $100,200 from a Small Business Administration program called the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. The Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act authorized the Small Business Administration to provide low-interest loans to companies that experienced disruptions caused by the pandemic.

According to an affidavit filed by a federal investigator, law enforcement authorities raided Walker’s Alabama residence the Chickasaw home of her sister, co-defendant Alexandria Walker.

Federal agents seized electronic devices and documents, including mail the name of “V.O.” Agents also seized electronic devices, mail matter and a money from Lacey, and a money-counting machine along with $189,520.00 from Latoria Walker’s home on McCay Avenue.

The fraud charge involving the alleged victim “V.O.” is one of a dozen fraudulent applications the defendants are accused of making from June to September 2020 under the disaster-relief program. The indictment lists 12 accompanying counts of aggravated identity theft.

Prosecutors also allege that three of the defendants defrauded another CARES Act program, the Paycheck Protection Program. The indictment accuses Danielle Catrice Vines of submitting a false application under the program, claiming to have owned a business that had gross revenues of $95,626 before the pandemic. The government sent her $19,922.

Co-defendant Tomika Brenda Vines fraudulently received $10,000 under the program, according to the allegations.

The money-laundering counts refer to $48,460 in withdrawals, checks or money transfers allegedly initiated by Latoria Walker, Danielle Vines or both.

Prosecutors seek a court order compelling the defendants to forfeit the following funds:

  • $146,641 seized from Regions Bank accounts.
  • $82,975 seized from BB&T Bank accounts.
  • The $19,922 that Danielle Vines received from the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • $20,000 sent to Tomika Vines under the program.

Lacey is set to be arraigned next week in U.S. District Court.