Georgia inmate sentenced for running a multi-million-dollar fraud scheme from state prison | USAO-NDGA

ROME, Ga. – Damon Thomas Young, a/k/a Morgan Sylvia, has been sentenced for his fraud scheme to steal heavy equipment worth nearly $3 million from various dealers, while serving a 20-year state sentence as an inmate with the Georgia Department of Corrections.

“Young schemed to steal millions of dollars’ worth of heavy equipment while serving a sentence for assaulting a police officer,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine.  “Inmates should not think that the crimes they commit from prison will go unpunished just because they are already incarcerated.  As in this case, inmates who commit crimes from behind bars face additional federal prison time to be served after their state sentences end.”

“Young committed an elaborate fraud scheme continuing his criminal activity even while behind bars, and for that he will be further punished by serving time in the federal prison system without the opportunity for parole,” said Alex Santiago, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI would like to thank our state and local partners for all their hard work and persistence that will keep this criminal behind bars for a significant amount of time.”

“People committing crimes, even from behind bars, should not expect to escape accountability. The GBI continues to collaborate with federal and local partners to make sure these types of investigations lead to successful prosecution ,” said Vic Reynolds, Director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

“The use of contraband cell phones by inmates as a tool to continue carrying out crimes from behind the walls of our facilities will not be tolerated,” said Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Timothy C. Ward.  “We are grateful to our law enforcement partners on every level for ensuring justice is served on this individual for his role in jeopardizing both the safe and secure operations of our facilities and the safety of the public.”

“We are very pleased that this matter has been brought to a successful conclusion through the combined efforts of our partners in state and federal government, and ourselves. This was a massive and complex investigation that required the best efforts of all the officers, agents and prosecutors assigned to the case. My congratulations to each investigative agency and to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for all of their hard work,” Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston.

According to U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges and other information presented in court:  Since 2010, Damon Thomas Young has been an inmate with the Georgia Department of Corrections, incarcerated first at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia, and then at Hays State Prison in Trion, Georgia.  Young is serving a 20-year state sentence for aggravated assault on a police officer and a 10-year sentence for violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.  Young also has prior convictions for theft by taking, impersonating a public officer, arson, forgery, burglary and arson, and theft by deception.  His maximum possible release date from state prison is June 16, 2030.

While serving his state prison sentence, in 2019, Young used a contraband cell phone to defraud, or attempt to defraud, multiple heavy equipment dealers out of equipment worth millions of dollars.  Using the alias Morgan Sylvia and pretending to be a purchasing officer with AbbVie, a real biopharmaceutical company, Young ordered heavy construction equipment that he had delivered in and around Ranger, Georgia, where he and his family lived.  He then put the equipment up for sale to buyers on Craigslist.

To carry out his fraud, Young called heavy equipment dealers, posed as Morgan Sylvia, a fictitious purchasing officer, and stated that he wanted to order some heavy construction equipment.  Using the Sylvia alias, Young misrepresented that AbbVie needed the equipment because it was building a facility in Ranger.  He ordered heavy equipment, such as wheel loaders, skid steer loaders, an excavator, a horizontal grinder, and dump trucks.  Young communicated with the equipment dealers by phone, text, and email from prison.  He fraudulently completed credit applications, purchase orders, sales contracts, and insurance documents and emailed them to the dealers as part of the scheme.  He also emailed a fraudulent AbbVie corporate resolution document, purportedly signed by actual corporate officers of the company, but in truth he had forged the signatures on the document. 

As part of his scheme, Young fraudulently ordered equipment worth over $2.8 million from six different equipment dealers.  Most of the dealers caught the fraud before shipment, but Young was successful in acquiring four pieces of equipment worth over $500,000.  He sold some of the stolen equipment online and used the proceeds to purchase two Chevrolet work trucks.  The Gordon County Sheriff’s Office has since recovered all of the stolen equipment that was shipped.

Young, 39, of Ranger, Georgia, has been sentenced to seven years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $30,000 to the online purchaser of the stolen equipment.  The Court ordered that five years of the federal sentence must run consecutively to the state sentence that Young is currently serving.  Young was convicted of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft on August 27, 2021, after he pleaded guilty.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Gordon County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Georgia Department of Corrections Criminal Investigations Division.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen H. McClain, Chief of the Complex Frauds Section, prosecuted the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

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