Originally created 09/25/01

Traveler receives probation



AIKEN - On Monday, a federal judge handed down a sentence and accepted guilty pleas in the case of a group of Irish Travelers accused of using fraudulent income tax forms to buy motor vehicles.

U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie sentenced Mary Gorman Mack, one of six Travelers who have pleaded guilty in the case, to three years' probation.

Ms. Mack is a member of the estimated 2,000-member group that traces its origin to 19th century Irish peddlers. Many live in Murphy Village along U.S. Highway 25 near the border of Edgefield and Aiken counties.

The FBI and the Aiken County Sheriff's Office have worked together since September 2000 to build a case against the individuals. All of the vehicles involved, including a sports car and three pickups, were purchased from Jim Ellis Volkswagen in Atlanta in 1998 and 1999, prosecutors said.

Ms. Mack admitted to submitting a false application to the dealership. Tax forms in her name misstated her income.

Ms. Mack was ordered to pay restitution of $4,467.41, or $125 a month.

Tommy J. Mack, 25, pleaded guilty to wire fraud after, he said, he lied on the income portion of the application at the Volkswagen dealership and faxed tax forms that were false.

Mr. Mack, who faces a maximum of five years in prison, will be sentenced after a review by probation officials.

"I would just like to put this behind me and get on with my life," he said.

Mr. Mack's uncle Bryan G. Gorman, 45, who co-signed Mr. Mack's false loan application, was given the opportunity to have his charge of wire fraud dismissed. Prosecutors are allowing him to apply for a program that, after supervision of no more than 18 months and meeting certain conditions such as restitution, would have the charge erased.

Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or mboedy@augusta.com.