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Nemacolin Woodlands Resort workers arrested in lottery scam

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Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011

Four Jamaican men who were employed at a Fayette County resort were jailed early Wednesday for allegedly operating an international lottery scam.

The group, which recently bilked an elderly Kansas man out of $25,000, allegedly was led by Michaelee Fitz-Andy Jamieson, 23, who told police that a family member in Jamaica asked him to "collect some cash."

"Jamieson explained that this was part of a lottery scam where people would be contacted and advised they had won the Jamaican lottery," Trooper Thomas Broadwater wrote in an affidavit of probable cause.

Jamieson allegedly recruited the other suspects to assist in the operation. Also arrested were Junior Winston Powell, 31; Sylvester Howard Williams, 32; and Jeffrey Augustus Bernard, 23.

The address of all four defendants was listed on court documents as 924 Success Drive, Farmington, which is associate housing at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, said spokesman Jeff Nobers.

The four men worked mainly as dishwashers and in the laundry room, Nobers said. Their supervisors told Nobers that there were no problems with any of the suspects or their work ethic.

"They had no guest contact whatsoever," he said.

The suspects' possessions have been removed from associate housing and they have been released from employment in light of the charges, Nobers said.

Nemacolin employs foreign guest workers through visa programs. Nobers said the men were in the country on H2B visas that were set to expire in December. The visas typically last for eight to 10 months, he said.

H2B visas allow workers from selected countries to work seasonal, nonagricultural jobs in the United States, according to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The investigation was prompted by a Parkvale Bank employee who reported Monday that on Oct. 5, Bernard opened a checking account with a $25,000 check from a Topeka, Kan., couple.

On Tuesday, state police contacted the 86-year-old man, who reported that "he was contacted by a man identifying himself as Jeffrey Bernard who told him that he had won the Mega Millions lottery, but he needed to send money to him in order for the funds to be released," Broadwater wrote.

Victims would send checks to the Success Drive address and the suspects would deposit them in local banks, Jamieson told police. After the checks clear, a small fee was subtracted for the suspects' work and the remainder sent to Jamaica, he told police.

Through a search warrant, police found information linking the four men to numerous other crimes throughout the country.

All of the defendants were lodged in the Fayette County Prison Wednesday on $50,000 bail each. All face felony charges of corrupt organizations, receiving stolen property and conspiracy. Preliminary hearings are scheduled for Wednesday before Markleysburg District Judge Wendy Dennis.

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