Local Residents Arrested for Wire Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 20, 2010|
HOUSTON—Carla Jean Johnson, of Spring, Texas, and Royce Lamar Smith, 38, of Houston, have been arrested on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. Johnson was arrested today, while Smith was taken into custody on Friday. Both were arrested by FBI agents while at the Harris County probation office.
Nettie Marie Smither, 35, of Houston, also taken into custody today, voluntarily surrendered to FBI agents at the Houston FBI office. A warrant remains outstanding for a fourth defendant, Donnie Smith, 32, formerly of Houston and now believed to be in Georgia.
The sealed indictment, returned Dec. 14, 2010 and unsealed today, alleges that Johnson, 39, worked as controller of a Houston insurance company since 2005. Beginning on or about July 11, 2007, through July 11, 2009, the indictment alleges Johnson began sending money from the company's account to her friends and at least one co-worker, who would later return most of the money to Johnson. The co-defendants were told by Johnson that money was going to be put into their bank account, either by wire transfer or automatic deposit, or would be given a check. Thereafter, they were told to keep part of the deposited monies and give the remainder back to Johnson. The company lost approximately one million dollars as result of the conspiracy.
Johnson and Smith appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson today who ordered them temporarily detained on the government's motion based on the allegations they committed the fraud while on probation for a felony theft charge in Harris County. A detention hearing is set for tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Smither also appeared today and was granted a $20,000 bond with the condition that she have no access to sensitive or personal information at any place of employment.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervised release.
The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the Houston FBI. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Martha Minnis.
An indictment or a criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.