Two members of a conspiracy that defrauded a Broad Street loan company out of more than $1 million were sentenced to prison Thursday.
Michele Garnett and Jamerson B. Turner had been a hard-working couple trying to raise a child on low wages when Michelle Sullivan suggested a way for them to earn more money – join a scheme to obtain fraudulent loans from Colonial Finance Co., a subsidiary of World Acceptance Corp.
Neither had a criminal record until October, when they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They were involved in the scheme for two weeks and their take was $18,901.
“I should have known better,” Turner said in U.S. District Court on Thursday. He’s now in worse financial shape than before and has let down his parents and 4-year-old son, he said. He had $6,300 for restitution Thursday.
Garnett went immediately back to work and started saving money for restitution after her arrest, attorney Danny Durham said. She had $8,500 saved by Thursday. Garnett is within five classes of earning a degree
from Georgia Military College, attorney Melissa Bray said.
Garnett and Turner sought probation, but Judge J. Randal Hall stayed within the federal sentencing guideline range. He sentenced Garnett to six months in prison followed by three years on supervised release. He gave Turner four months in prison, then three years on supervised release.
Others named in the indictment are Sullivan, Danny Terrell Jr. and Sherelle Blount.
In a little more than four months last year, the defendants obtained fraudulent loans valued at more than
$1 million, authorities say.
Sullivan was the branch manager for Colonial Finance on Broad Street, Blount the assistant manager and Garnett the customer service representative. Terrell and Turner were recruited to provide personal identification information, authorities say. Sullivan and Blount pleaded guilty in October.