U.S. Markets close in 3 hrs 47 mins

Idaho inmate charged with mail fraud

Rebecca Boone, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- An Idaho prison inmate who prosecutors say netted at least $64,000 by running a mail fraud scheme from an Oklahoma prison cell was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury.

Mark Anthony Brown, who is serving time on a burglary conviction at the Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino, was indicted on 12 felony counts of mail fraud in U.S. District Court. He has not yet entered a plea.

According to the indictment, federal prosecutors contend Brown committed the fraud between 2007 and 2009, when he was part of a group of Idaho inmates serving time at an Oklahoma private prison under a contract with the state.

Brown allegedly submitted phony claim forms to the administrators of various class-action lawsuit and bankruptcy settlements, pretending to be entitled to some of the payout. Prosecutors say he would then deposit the money in his Idaho Department of Correction trust account and other bank accounts.

Prosecutors say a search of Brown's cell in 2009 turned up a dozen phony letters purporting to be from nonexistent law firms, and the letters claimed Brown was entitled to money from various legal settlements with companies like IBM Corp., Levi Strauss & Co. and NovaStar Financial Inc. According to the indictment, the federal grand jury believes there is evidence Brown actually collected money from several settlements, including nearly $30,000 from GlaxoSmithKline PLC over drug prices and more than $5,000 in a bond settlement case.

Idaho Department of Correction spokeswoman Theresa Jones said Brown was sent to prison in 1995 for grand theft by possession, attempted arson and burglary. He has completed his sentences on the theft and arson charge, and his sentence for burglary will be satisfied in 2024.