COLUMBIA, SC – United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that Patricia G. Sullivan, age 66, and Sharon D. Johnson, age 50, both of Columbia, pled guilty yesterday in federal court in Greenville, to a conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Drake says Patricia Sullivan, who formerly served as postmaster for Greenville County, and Sharon Johnson were co-conspirators in a scheme to defraud various individuals.
She says Sullivan operated a company called HYPD Publishing (“HYPD”).
In March 2009, HYPD published The Struggle of Love written by Sharon Johnson.
Drake says after publication of Johnson’s book, Sullivan and Johnson began to spin a story that the producer Tyler Perry had bought the rights to The Struggle of Love and would be making a movie or reality TV show staring Johnson.
She says victims were told that Sullivan and Johnson were on the verge of great wealth, but needed bridge loans or some other form of financial assistance until the project with Perry reached fruition.
Sullivan and Johnson promised the victims large returns in exchange for the loans and/or investments, according to Drake.
To make themselves look the part of successful individuals, Sullivan and Johnson squatted in several mansions, took photos, and posted them to Facebook, according to the news release.
Drake says they also created fictitious documents from an accounting firm that “documented” the sale of the book and a huge payout to come, as well as a bogus Wells Fargo statement that showed millions of dollars as pending.
There was no book deal with Tyler Perry and the victims lost the money loaned and/or invested, according to the US Attorney.
Law enforcement estimates that the loss to the victims is approximately $300,000.
Drake says the maximum penalty defendants can receive is a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment for 20 years, plus a special assessment of $100.
The judge will impose sentence after reviewing the report from the U.S. Probate Office.