Feds: Man pleads to small part in big 'lost baggage' scam
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 30-year-old New Orleans-area man has pleaded guilty to playing a $17,000 part in what prosecutors described last year as a scheme to defraud airlines of $550,000 in phony lost baggage claims.
Donmonick Martin of Chalmette pleaded guilty on Feb. 9 to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans said in a news release Thursday. Martin, also known as Dommonick Martin, signed a statement saying $17,400 in false claims could be traced to him, and about $10,500 of that was sent to his home or PayPal account.
Martin said he didn’t get paid, and his codefendant got all the money.
When codefendant Pernell Jones, Jr., of Kenner, pleaded guilty in November 2021 to mail fraud and to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, Evans said he had filed $550,000 in false claims and received $300,000.
Evans said Martin went into New Orleans’ international airport in January 2020 to make a claim under the false name that Jones had just used on a flight to New Orleans. On four other occasions, the news release said, he agreed to have payments sent to his home or PayPal account.
When he filed the claim himself, the court statement said, a suspicious airline employee took photos and video of him doing so and the airline turned them over to law enforcement.
Jones’ court papers said he was arrested at Dallas Love Airport in April 2018 when a screener noticed an “anomaly” in his carry-on bag and found 36 fake driver’s licenses and 47 credit cards under fictitious names. In March 2020, he was arrested while trying to pick up a check at Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner. A search of his home that day turned up 34 phony driver’s licenses; 21 fake work identification cards and some faked airline employee badges with Jones’ picture.
His sentencing is scheduled Feb. 24, Martin’s on May 4.
Jones could get up to 20 years and a $250,000 fine on each count, prosecutors said last year. The maximum for Martin would be five years and a $250,000 fine, Evans said Thursday.
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