Skip navigation

Tag Archives: South Carolina DSS

Chief check casher in $5M DSS scheme gets 8 years


Associated Press Writer

COLUMBIA, S.C. The man federal authorities have called the ringleader of a scheme to defraud the South Carolina social services agency out of more than $5 million was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison.

Jonathan Moses, 42, was sentenced in federal court in Columbia, U.S. Attorney Walt Wilkins said.

About two dozen people have been accused of helping former Department of Social Services finance director Paul Moore embezzle the money between May 2004 and October 2008, and many have pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors have said Moses recruited people to cash the checks and gave their names to Moore, who then would have fraudulent checks made out to the recruits, for about $7,000 each. Prosecutors say the recruits then cashed the checks, kept a portion of the money and gave the rest back to Moses and Moore.

In all, Wilkins has said he suspects hundreds were recruited to cash the checks.

In June, Moses pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, theft of federal program funds and money laundering. He had faced up to 10 years in prison, but prosecutors had asked for a lesser sentence – about five years – because Moses has helped identify other check cashers.

Instead, U.S. District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie sentenced him to eight years.

“Stealing money from DSS that could have been used to help the needy and underprivileged is reprehensible,” Wilkins said. “These guilty pleas affirm our office’s commitment to prosecute those who illegally line their pockets with public dollars.”

Moses’ attorney, Johnny Gasser, declined to comment on his client’s sentence but did say the defense team may ask for a new one because of his “extensive and extraordinary cooperation in this matter.”

On Wednesday, Wilkins said Moses admitted to cashing six fraudulent DSS checks and to recruiting about 15 others, who then recruited hundreds of other check-cashers.

Moore is charged with conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud. Authorities say he requested about 750 checks cut from Treasury Department funds from 2004 to 2008, although Moore has admitted to distributing only 200 checks, for a total of $1.3 million, saying he spent money he got back on alcohol, gambling and strippers.

But prosecutors say a Social Services audit showed $5.5 million missing from the agency – money they say Moore took, although only $5.2 million of that money was actually cashed.

Moore has pleaded not guilty, but his attorney has said Moore is planning to change his plea once he can agree with prosecutors on the amount taken from the agency. He is set to have a pretrial conference next month.

Support Grows For Mom Of 550-Pound Boy


Calls Offer Aid For Jerri Gray, Son

POSTED: 6:38 pm EDT June 17, 2009

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Support for the mother of a 555-pound boy is coming from all over the country, despite the fact that she remains in jail.

Jerri Gray was arrested and extradited from Maryland to Greenville, after she fled the Upstate to avoid a family court hearing where the Department of Social Services planned to take custody of her son, prosecutors said.

She is being held on charges of child neglect and custodial interference.

Gray’s attorney said Wednesday that his office had taken many calls from all over from people offering financial support and other aid to Gray and her son. Efforts are under way to establish a fund to help the family in the long-term.

Attorney Grant Varner said, “We are hoping to complete the program — provide a complete treatment program, a full treatment program, a beneficial treatment program — whereas the Department of Social Services wants to put him on a treadmill and get him to lose 100 pounds and say, ‘Job done.'”

Marilyn Matheus, with DSS, issued a written statement saying, “This child is under medical care and progressing well. His medical team will determine his best course of treatmet and we will make sure he is provided what he needs.”

Previous Stories:

•June 13, 2009: Mother Of 555-Pound Boy Stays In Jail

•June 4, 2009: Mom Who Fled With 555-Pound Son Back In Upstate

•May 27, 2009: Mother Of 555-Pound Boy In Court

•May 22, 2009: Attorney: Don’t Assume Obese Teen’s Mom Is Guilty

•May 22, 2009: Mom, 555-Pound Son Found In Baltimore

Copyright 2009 by

Nine admit to DSS fraud scheme

Posted: June 11, 2009 05:23 PM EDT

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Nine people pled guilty Thursday for their respective roles in an alleged scheme to embezzle more than $5.2 million dollars from the Department of Social Services.

Entering guilty pleas Thursday were Sandra Alston, 49, Eddie Nathaniel Belton, 54, Barbara Goodson Boyd, 57, John David Cannon, 32, Lawanda Shea Gadson, 32, Brenda Joyce Goodson, 54, Mary Louise Hayes, 52, and Curtis Demetrius Hollins, 39, and Sophia L. Clark, 38.

Each admitted to cashing varying numbers of DSS checks that were procured by fraud and/or recruiting others to cash additional checks.

Paul Timothy Moore was indicted in February for allegedly using his position as the DSS Finance Director to authorize the issuance of hundreds of DSS checks between May 2004 and October 2008, in the approximate average amount of $7,000 each.

The checks were made payable to names allegedly provided by a co-conspirator who also recruited the named individuals to cash the checks and split the proceeds. Some of those who were recruited, including the nine defendants pleading guilty today, in turn recruited others into the scheme.

Moore was recently released from federal custody and is awaiting trial.

The maximum possible penalty for theft of federal program funds is ten years and a fine of $250,000.



9 more plead guilty in SC DSS check cashing scheme

The Associated Press

S.C. — Prosecutors say there have been more guilty pleas in a check-cashing scheme to defraud South Carolina’s social services agency of up to $5.2 million.

U.S. Attorney Walt Wilkins says Sandra Alston, Eddie Belton, Barbara Boyd, Sophia Clark, John Cannon, Lawanda Gadson, Brenda Goodson, Mary Louise Hayes and Curtis Hollins pleaded guilty Thursday to theft of federal program funds.

About two dozen people have been accused of helping former Department of Social Services finance director Paul Moore take the money over nearly five years. Authorities say Moore wrote checks and got others to cash them, keeping some of the money for themselves and giving the rest to Moore.

Moore is awaiting trial. His lawyer has said he is helping investigators, but disagrees on how much money was taken.

3 more indicted in SC DSS check cashing scheme

 Posted: 4:24 AM Jun 3, 2009

Last Updated: 4:29 AM Jun 3, 2009

Reporter: Associated Press

 June 3, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say three more people have been charged with cashing checks in a scheme to defraud South Carolina’s social services agency of up to $5.2 million.

The indictments announced Tuesday mean 23 people now have been accused of helping former Department of Social Services Director Paul Moore take the money over nearly five years. Prosecutors say the investigation is not over and they expect more indictments.

Authorities say Moore wrote checks averaging around $7,000 and got others to cash them, keeping some of the money for themselves and giving the rest to Moore.

Moore is out of jail on bail and is awaiting trial. His lawyer has said he is helping investigators, but disagrees with authorities on how much money was taken from DSS.

S.C. fugitive, teen found in Woodlawn


Mother, 555-pound son were missing since Monday,0,2489602.story

By Richard Irwin |

May 22, 2009

A woman wanted by South Carolina authorities and her 555-pound 14-year-old son were found by Baltimore County police Thursday afternoon washing their clothes in a Woodlawn laundry, county police said.

Awaiting extradition to Greenville, S.C., and held at the Woodlawn precinct was Jerri Gray, 49, of Travelers Rest, a city about 10 miles north of Greenville, said Lt. Matt Weatherly of the Woodlawn Precinct. She was being sought on a warrant charging her with violating a child custody order.

Her son, Alexander Draper, was turned over to the county Department of Social Services after he was taken by Fire Department medics to Greater Baltimore Medical Center, where he was examined and declared in good health.

(If he was found in good health then why are they taking him????)

Weatherly said after police agencies were notified that the mother had not kept a court appointment in Greenville, police monitored messages on her cell phone and traced at least one call to the Woodlawn area. Officers patrolled the area near the Social Security Administration building on Security Boulevard, and about 4:35 p.m. spotted the woman’s van parked outside Sudsville, a commercial laundry on Security Boulevard near Whitehead Road.

Inside, the officers found the mother and her son, Weatherly said. He said the boy was dressed in sweats and that each cooperated with police. At the precinct, the boy told police he was in the eighth grade and had had weight problems his entire life.

“He was well-behaved and well-spoken,” Weatherly said.

Weatherly said the boy told him he and his mother had no relatives in Maryland and that they “were just riding around.” Weatherly said the mother had driven north from South Carolina and was on Interstate 695 (the Baltimore Beltway) when she turned onto Security Boulevard and spotted the laundry.

He said the county fugitive squad was working with Greenville police to arrange for the mother’s extradition. He did not know when the boy would be returned to his mother or other relatives.

Investigators didn’t know if Gray had an attorney, and her relatives have not responded to messages left by the Associated Press.

Lt. Shea Smith of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, told the Associated Press the mother failed to keep a scheduled court appearance Tuesday in Greenville so officials began investigating claims of child neglect and endangerment.

Authorities said the teen was at a “stage of critical health risk” but wouldn’t provide details about his medical condition beyond his weight, Smith said.

Gray and her son had been last seen Monday at their home in Travelers Rest.

Marilyn Matheus, a spokeswoman for the South Caroline Department of Social Services, said, “This agency doesn’t get involved in such cases based on a child’s weight alone, but will take action in cases where health care professionals believe the child is at risk due to the parent’s possible neglect in providing medical care.”

A Greenville County judge ordered the child taken into protective custody when found.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


Authorities arrest mom for medical neglect of 555-pound teen

CNN) — South Carolina authorities have located a 555-pound teenager and his mother, who faces a charge of violating a custody order, police said Thursday.

Alexander Deundray Draper, 14, "is possibly at a stage of critical health risk," social services said.

Alexander Deundray Draper, 14, "is possibly at a stage of critical health risk," social services said.

Alexander Deundray Draper, 14, of Travelers Rest, South Carolina, and his mother, Jerri Althea Gray, were located at about 4:30 p.m. near a laundromat in Baltimore, Maryland, by the Baltimore County Sheriff’s Office, said Matt Armstrong, a spokesman for the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office in Greenville, South Carolina.

“Draper was checked out by EMS [Emergency Medical Services] personnel and turned over to the Maryland Department of Social Services,” Armstrong said.

The South Carolina Department of Social Services will work with its Maryland counterpart to have the boy returned to South Carolina, he told CNN affiliate WYFF.

The mother is being held in a detention center and will be extradited to South Carolina on an outstanding warrant, he said.

“The understanding was that the individual was of the weight where it was decided by medical authorities that he needed treatment that was not being provided for by his mother,” Armstrong said.

Earlier in the day officials said the boy “is possibly at a stage of critical health risk.”

Gray was supposed to appear in family court Tuesday with her son and failed to do so, the sheriff’s office said. During the family court hearing, the boy was ordered into state custody because of medical neglect, as well as his mother’s failure to appear. The Department of Social Services then contacted the sheriff’s office, authorities said.

The warrant said Gray was served with papers Monday and told to report to court for a hearing in which the department would seek state custody of Draper. “The defendant has avoided the custody proceeding and has concealed the child,” the warrant says.


Okay, I agree this child needs some help with his weight, but is this really abuse and a reason for the state of SC to assume emergency custody?  It says right here in the news article that the child was found to be in good health, wouldn’t it make more sense for the South Carolina DSS to help the mother find a program to help her son loose weight, instead of yanking him away from his family and placing him God knows where, with God knows who.  I can only imagine what DSS will do this child, what foster parents may do to this child….

Furthermore, the mother was served with papers on Monday to appear the next day…So she didn’t even have time to contact an attorney, was one appointed to her by the court?  Was his name on the documents she was served with and what about due process????   I don’t blame her for running, she obviously loves her “wellbehaved, well mannered child,” and did not want to loose him. 

This is a case where DSS should have offered this mother and child help with the weight problem, instead they decide to rip a family apart.  What kind of evidence could this judge have had before him or did he base his decision on the child’s weight and the word of DSS alone?

Let me know what you think of this situation?

Foster mom may be charged with homicide after taping pacifier to baby’s mouth

By Clif LeBlanc / McClatchy Newspapers

Friday, May 8, 2009

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Authorities said Thursday they may charge a pediatric nurse turned foster mother with child homicide after she confessed to taping a pacifier to an infant’s mouth.

Angela Deniece Dukes, 30, also lost her foster care license Thursday after a clean history of caring for three other children before the Feb. 8 death of 9-month-old Curtis Williams, officials with the Department of Social Services said.

Dukes had been a foster mother for 11 months until the agency revoked her license on the heels of a State Law Enforcement Division charge Wednesday of misconduct toward a child. SLED director Reggie Lloyd said agents will consult with prosecutors about upgrading the charge to homicide by child abuse.

SLED filed the lesser charge because agents wanted to arrest Dukes as quickly as possible before she went to work Thursday at Palmetto Health Richland, where she works with ailing children, Lloyd said. She was arrested at her home.

Dukes has worked in the intermediate care section of the neonatal intensive care unit since August 2006, hospital spokeswoman Judy Smith said. She last worked May 1 and was to return for a shift that began at 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Tammie Epps, another spokeswoman, said.

The hospital had received no complaints about Dukes in 2�½ years of employment, Smith said. She was suspended without pay as soon as SLED notified the hospital it would file a charge, the spokeswomen said.

Dukes confessed Monday to an agent that she had taped the baby’s mouth shut to hold the pacifier in place, Lloyd said. She used medical tape.

She also had told investigators she gave Curtis the medication Benadryl for his congestion.

Dukes’ job in the intensive care unit entails dealing with babies who have improved enough to transfer from critical care. She worked under the supervision of nursing supervisors and physicians, Smith said.

The hospital is reviewing its neonatal cases as it normally does when it learns of unusual occurrences, she said, adding she does not know how many cases are to be examined or how long the review will take.

Palmetto Health policy does not bar any employee from becoming a foster parent, she said.

Pediatric nurses are highly skilled and generally work in that field because of their love of children, said Judy Thompson, director of the South Carolina Nurses Association.

“You are dealing with the most fragile of the fragile,” Thompson said. “This is a very, very needy population.”

For that reason, Curtis’ death has affected even a veteran death investigator.

“I am very dismayed by this,” said Clay Nichols, Richland County’s medical examiner who did the autopsy and has been a pathologist for 24 years.

A nurse skilled enough to work in a hospital with vulnerable children should be especially knowledgeable of the dangers of taping anything over an infant’s mouth, Nichols said.

He likened taping the pacifier to “putting a plastic bag over a child’s head.”

“I want to quit being surprised and hurt,” Nichols said. “But this hurts me to my soul.”

Dukes remains in the Richland County jail under $250,000 bail.

DSS had received no complaints about Dukes as a foster parent before the death of Curtis, said Sue O’Toole, who oversees foster care licensing.

“We didn’t have any problems with her,” O’Toole said.

Dukes has 30 days to appeal the revocation of her foster care license, but cannot keep children during that time, O’Toole said.

DSS licensing regulators visited Dukes’ St. Andrews Road apartment several times while she was caring for foster children. “Everything was fine,” O’Toole said.

The agency learned of the taped pacifier from reporters, DSS attorney Virginia Williamson said.

Dukes, who is from Conway and received her nursing degree from Horry-Georgetown Technical College, had expressed interest early on in adopting, O’Toole said.

But she did not file a formal request.

Shirley Jivers, 50, of Cayce, S.C., is Curtis’ grandmother. She said she learned of the asphyxiation from a reporter Wednesday.

“I was speechless,” Jivers said. “I stayed up late and just sat on the porch. He was just a cheerful, happy baby, showed a lot of love. He was just one of a kind.”

Curtis recently had learned how to say “grandma” and “mama,” she said.

Jivers is concerned about the safety of her 2-year-old granddaughter, whom DSS placed in another foster home. Jivers said she has not seen the child since.

Authorities took both children when they tested positive for drugs. They took Curtis after Cayce police found him with his biological mother, Katrina Jivers, in a Cayce motel room that was filled with marijuana smoke. That occurred Feb. 7, the day before he died.

His sister, who wasn’t in the motel room, later tested positive for cocaine. DSS placed her in foster care.

“The first one, he didn’t last in their custody,” Shirley Jivers said. “I’m worried about her. I don’t want the same thing to happen to her.”


(Staff writer Lee Higgins contributed to this article.)

(c) 2009, The State (Columbia, S.C.). Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Parents reported child’s injuries before death, officer testifies


By Paul Alongi • STAFF WRITER • April 22, 2009

The state Department of Social Services never took 2-year-old Samauri Mayes out of her former caretaker’s custody, even after the toddler’s parents reported seeing injuries on the child while visiting her, a Greenville County sheriff’s investigator testified Tuesday.

The caretaker, Lavonda Danellia Maxwell, 29, was in court to face charges of homicide by child abuse and unlawful neglect of a child in Mayes’ death on Jan. 2.

Comments about DSS came out as an assistant solicitor and defense attorney battled over whether there was enough evidence to send the charges to the grand jury. Magistrate Diane Cagle ruled there was.

DSS spokeswoman Mailyn Matheus declined to go into whether Mayes’ parents’ reported any injuries but said DSS is conducting a child-death review.

Sheriff’s investigator Laura Jones testified that DSS placed Mayes in Maxwell’s custody after allegations were lodged against the girl’s parents, including that they smoked pot. Maxwell was a cousin of the girl’s mother, Shawona Shanta Watts, Jones testified.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 157 other followers

%d bloggers like this: