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Dec. 4, 2021, 8:27 a.m. EST

‘Brazen is probably an understatement’: Georgia inmate ran multi-million dollar scam from prison cell, posing as AbbVie employee

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By Lukas I. Alpert

A Georgia prison inmate has been sentenced to seven additional years for running a multi-million dollar heavy equipment scam from behind bars, where he used contraband cell phones to pose as a purchasing agent for pharma company AbbVie Inc.

Damon Thomas Young, 39, was about half way through a 20-year sentence for assaulting a police officer when he launched a scheme in 2019 to acquire heavy machinery from dealers with the premise that AbbVie was planning to build a manufacturing facility in rural Georgia.

“Calling this far-reaching fraud scheme brazen is probably an understatement,” federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

Cash proceeds

When the equipment — which was purchased using loans — was delivered to properties owned by Young’s family near Ranger, Ga., he would then arrange to sell it to unsuspecting buyers via Craigslist and pocket the cash, prosecutors said.

In all, Young — using the alias Morgan Sylvia — placed orders for $2.8 million worth of equipment, including wheel loaders, skid steer loaders, an excavator, a horizontal grinder, and dump trucks, from six dealers in Georgia and North Carolina, prosecutors said. 

While many of the orders were stopped before they went through, four pieces of equipment worth around $500,000 were delivered and then sold to others. All of it has since been recovered and returned, authorities said.

In some of the purchasing orders, Young forged the signatures of AbbVie’s chief financial officer and other company officials. A representative for AbbVie didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Young pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in August. He was sentenced Tuesday to an additional seven years in prison, five of which must be served after he completes his current prison term in 2030.

A message left with Young’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned.

Young was sentenced to 20 years in Georgia state prison in 2010 on racketeering charges and for assaulting a police officer. He also has prior convictions for theft, impersonating a public officer, arson, forgery, and burglary, according to court records.

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