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Federal indictments charge 51 defendants in prison corruption scams

Federal prosecutors in Atlanta have obtained 13 indictments against 51 people who were involved in an alleged corruption and fraud operation at a South Georgia prison.

The indictments unsealed this week charge 15 current or former prison officials, 19 current or former inmates and 17 other individuals in the alleged scheme at Autry State Prison, located in Pelham about 35 miles south of Albany. Much of the alleged illegal activity was carried out by inmates using contraband cellphones, indictments say.

In one alleged scheme, prison inmates, pretending they were law enforcement officials, telephoned prospective victims and told them they had unlawfully failed to appear for jury duty, one indictment said. These victims were told that warrants had been issued for their arrest and they had the choice of being arrested or paying fines to get the warrants dismissed.

For those who chose to pay a fine, the inmates told them to buy pre-paid cash cards and provide them with the account number, or wire money directly to pre-paid debit card accounts held by the inmates, an indictment alleged.

For more complete coverage of the indictments, please go to


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Bill Rankin covers criminal justice for the Enterprise team.