AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Phony work schemes land three Atlanta-area women in prison

Phantom employees, fake companies, phony work projects and a fraudulent loan application were elements in brazen schemes devised by an Atlanta woman and two friends. Their victims: the Georgia National Guard and an Atlanta industrial equipment company. The take: more than $230,000 over the five years they got away with one scheme or the other.

Now, the three women involved have been sentenced to prison.

On Tuesday, former Georgia National Guard contracting official Raytosha Elliott of Atlanta was sentenced to two years, 10 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $140,000 in restitution. Her friend Lakeysha Ellis of Decatur drew a nine-month sentence and was ordered to pay about $150,000. And Angela Thicklin of Atlanta was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison and ordered to repay $78,000.

They pleaded guilty to conspiracy earlier this year.

Elliott apparently set up the Georgia National Guard scheme, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney John A. Horn. Working as a contracting official at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Elliott had her friends set up dummy corporations. Then she awarded them no-bid contracts, certified the work was completed when it wasn't and made sure they got paid. They split the proceeds.

Meanwhile, Ellis was in the catbird seat for another scheme. Working as an accountant at Baumueller-Nuermont Corp.'s office in Atlanta, she funneled money to two sham companies, created phantom employees in the company's payroll system to disguise payments, and split the take with Elliott, the news release says.

Apparently, the schemes unraveled when a state employee started asking questions, WSB has reported.

The case was investigated by the FBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Defense Office of Inspector General; Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and the Deputy Inspectors General of the State of Georgia Office of the Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen H. McClain prosecuted the case.

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About the Author

Lois Norder is Senior Editor for Investigations in the newsroom at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.