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US prosecutors seek 14-year sentence for woman involved in lottery scam

Federal prosecutors in North Dakota are seeking a prison sentence for a Rhode Island woman who funnelled lottery scam money between the U.S. and Jamaica that is more than double what they sought for the scheme's ringleader.
 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan O'Konek said a lack of contrition and cooperation on the part of Melinda Bulgin are big reasons why the state is seeking a 14-year sentence for her, which is about eight years more than they sought for Jamaican lottery kingpin Lavrick Willocks.
 
Defense attorney Chad McCabe said he will seek a sentence more reasonable and appropriate.
 
A jury in September convicted the 28 year-old Bulgin of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering in a scam that authorities say bilked more than 100 mostly elderly Americans out of more than US$ million. 
 
It is believed to be the first large-scale Jamaican lottery scam tried in the U.S. 
 
It involved 31 defendants, including 14 Jamaicans, most of whom accepted plea deals with the government.
 
Among those who accepted a plea deal was Willocks. 
 
Prosecutors say he ran the scam out of a Jamaica mansion where he lived with his mother. 
 
O'Konek recommended six years and three months in prison, and U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland in October sentenced him to six years, crediting him with cooperating.
 
Authorities say Bulgin funneled scam proceeds via cheap flights she got through her airline job. 
 
She eventually was caught at a Jamaican airport in 2015.
 
Bulgin is to be sentenced April 17. 
 
Authorities identified victims in 31 states, including at least one person who committed suicide. 
 
The case has been prosecuted in North Dakota because that's where the initial identified victim lives.
 


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