6 indicted in money laundering scheme to pay for cross-dressing lifestyle

CINCINNATI - Six men have been indicted in Hamilton County for their part in a scheme to counterfeit checks to pay for, what police are calling, their cross-dressing lifestyle.

According to court documents, Christopher Scott, Dontay Shamel, Robert Watkins, Marcus Thurmond, Julian Moore and John Lewis Smith took part in a scheme to make counterfeit checks and IDs, steal credit card numbers and recode the credit cards.

With the stolen information, police say the men bought Nordstrom gift cards from stores including Kroger, Giant Eagle, Walmart, Staples, TJ Maxx and Bed Bath and Beyond.

The court documents say the men used the Nordstrom gift cards to buy jewelry, handbags, kid's clothes and other items, and then returned the items for a cash refund.

Officers believe the men targeted Nordstrom stores because the return policy allowed them to get a cash refund when they used gift cards.

Court documents say this method was used to turn stolen credit card numbers and counterfeit checks into clean laundered cash which was then used to support the operations of the group of men involved in the case, including the support of the House of Ebony.

Christopher Scott pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering, one count of theft and 11 counts of identity fraud.  He is serving a six year sentence for his crimes.

Lewis Smith also pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property and money laundering.  He will serve 9 months with a three year probation period.  Smith was also asked to pay $8,273.87 to Kroger for restitution.

Julian Moore pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and will serve probation.

Shamel, Watkins and Thurmond will be in court on Nov, 5, 2012.

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