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South Carolina inmate Javarius Teague was sentenced May 8, 2024, to two years and nine months in federal prison for laundering more than $13,000 he had extorted from service members.

South Carolina inmate Javarius Teague was sentenced May 8, 2024, to two years and nine months in federal prison for laundering more than $13,000 he had extorted from service members. (Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)

A South Carolina man already in state prison was handed a federal sentence for laundering money from an extortion scheme targeting service members, one of whom died by suicide at his urging, according to authorities.

Javarius Teague, 31, was sentenced last week to two years and nine months, prosecutors said in statement Friday. Teague and a group of at least four co-conspirators extorted victims “by means of threatened force, violence or fear,” according to the indictment.

In the scheme, Teague and his collaborators smuggled smartphones into the prison and posed as young women on dating sites, according to court documents.

The targeted service members were compelled to send compromising photos of themselves, the statement said. Then participants in the scheme would contact the victims and claim to be relatives of the women.

They would say the women were underage, demand money and threaten to report the service members to law enforcement or military authorities if they didn’t pay, prosecutors said. The scheme brought in more than $13,000, according to the indictment.

Authorities became aware of the scheme in December 2017 when a service member died by suicide rather than pay the money, something Teague and his co-conspirators encouraged, prosecutors said.

Service members sent money transfers through various providers for Teague to collect from intermediaries, the statement said. The conspiracy had been going on since at least October 2016 through December 2022, according to the indictment.

Teague pleaded guilty last year to money laundering involving racketeering. U.S. District Judge Timothy Cain sentenced him Wednesday, according to the prosecutor’s statement.

Co-defendants Cassandra Poole and Shuntonia Lamar pleaded guilty last year to money laundering charges and were sentenced to 14 months each in federal prison.

Two other co-defendants, Tiara Poole Sullivan and Tirrian Gaines, also pleaded guilty to money laundering and were sentenced to four months in jail, according to the indictment.

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