Second New Orleans-area man pleads guilty in false baggage claim scam | Courts

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Two New Orleans-area men have pleaded guilty and await sentencing in federal court over a scheme to file bogus claims for lost baggage with several commercial airlines to the tune of more than $500,000 in claims over five years.

Donmonick Martin, 30, of Chalmette pleaded guilty last week to a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Martin allegedly worked with the scheme’s ringleader Pernell Anthony Jones Jr., 32, to receive reimbursement funds from airlines based on the bogus claims. Jones pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy and mail fraud charges.

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They are accused of collaborating in a scheme that authorities say resulted in more than 180 claims with American, Alaska, United, JetBlue and other airlines for reimbursement of the contents of non-existent luggage.

Jones admitted to a scheme in which he bought airline tickets from pre-loaded gift cards under fictitious names, armed with dozens of fake ID cards.

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Jones would obtain bag tags from check-in kiosks, take the trip and report lost luggage. He would have the checks mailed to friends and associates, authorities alleged.

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American Airlines employees became suspicious over a pattern of similar claims and reported it to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, according to the factual basis underpinning Jones’ guilty plea.

Jones was arrested on March 5, 2020, as he attempted to pick up a reimbursement check. In a search of his Kenner home, authorities found 34 fraudulent driver’s licenses, fake work ID cards and four dozen fraudulent gift cards. Authorities matched at least four dozen bogus lost-baggage claims to the names on those cards.

Martin admitted to FBI agents in May that he helped Jones in one caper, falsely reporting a lost bag from a Jan. 30, 2020, flight from Chicago to New Orleans. Martin also admitted receiving fraud-related mail and allowing Jones to use his PayPal account to conceal ill-gotten funds.

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Jones was previously arrested in 2018 at Dallas Love Field Airport, after he ran a bag through an X-ray machine and Transportation Security Administration workers found that he’d packed 47 fraudulent credit cards and 36 bogus driver’s licenses.

Pearson is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 24 before U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo. He faces a maximum 20-year prison term. Martin faces a maximum 5-year prison sentence. He is scheduled to be sentenced before Milazzo on May 4, court records show.

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