5 people accused of running organized theft ring

Several people facing charges of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in an organized ring of purse thieves are scheduled to make their first appearance in U.S. District Court in Augusta next week.

Jerrold D. Harrison, 30, Johnny A. Hodges, 40, Jessica R. Bryant, 34, James Woodard and Kimberly N. Brogdon are named in a 33-count federal indictment.

They also are accused of conspiracy in connection with thefts that targeted people who left purses in their vehicles while visiting gyms, parks and athletic fields.

According to the indictment, women who resembled the victims were recruited and sent to banks to cash stolen checks.

The group also would rent vehicles for their “cashiers” and instruct them to go to the far outside lane of a drive-through bank so that the teller couldn’t get a good look at them, according to the indictment. At times, the indictment says, the cashiers were given checks from one victim’s bank account to cash at another victim’s bank.

Harrison, Bryant and Hodges are being held without bond in the Columbia County jail. They were arrested July 30.

The defendants are scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge W. Leon Barfield on Dec. 20.

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