Federal grand jury indicts 6 in Columbia on unrelated fraud charges

October 1, 2013 


— Three Columbia men were indicted Tuesday on federal fraud charges stemming from a scheme to steal construction supplies from Columbia area Lowe’s Home Improvement stores by falsely claiming to represent legitimate commercial accounts, U.S. attorney Bill Nettles said in a news release.

Melvin Anthony Brown, 47, Shawn Emmerson Peay, 38, and Ricky Lee Coker, 52, were charged in a two-count indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and credit card fraud.

After getting information about a valid commercial construction account, Brown would add his accomplice’s names to the account as purchasing agents, the indictment says. The three men then would travel to “various Lowe’s and make purchases of construction materials using the fraudulently obtained commercial charge account information.”

If convicted, Brown, Peay and Coker could face fines of $250,000 each and/or 30 years in prison, or both.

In three separate indictments, other Columbia residents were charged with fraudulently receiving unemployment benefits.

Erhonda Tobias, (aka Erehonda Morgan), 31, Anthony Germany, 47, and Danielle N. Jones, 29, each faced multiple indictments of unemployment benefits fraud and mail fraud. If convicted, they could be sentenced to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

According to her indictment, between 2007 and 2010, Erhonda Tobias lied about her employment status to continue receiving unemployment benefits totaling more than $30,000.

Anthony M. Germany is charged with lying about his employment status between 2009 and 2011 and receiving more than $32,000 in unemployment benefits.

The indictments were handed down by a federal ground jury in Columbia on Tuesday.

Rachael Myers Lowe

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