Texas Woman Who Stole Almost $4M From LFUCG Sentenced to 80 Months in Prison

For Immediate Release

U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. A San Antonio woman, Shimea Maret McDonald, 25, was sentenced to 80 months in federal prison on Thursday, by U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell, for conspiracy to commit money laundering and aggravated identity theft. She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,690,870.81.

According to her plea agreement, McDonald conspired with Nana Kwabena Amuah to launder the proceeds obtained from business email compromise scams.  Specifically, their coconspirators targeted business or municipal entities, which had ongoing financial relationships with other vendors who were owed current or future payments by the entities. Then, these coconspirators impersonated the vendors in email communications with the targeted entities and requested wire payments to a new bank account. McDonald opened these bank accounts, using fake identity cards in the names of real people and the names of fake companies she established with secretaries of state. McDonald would then attempt to withdraw the funds in a variety of payment methods, to quickly move the funds elsewhere at the direction of Amuah, retaining a sizeable cut for herself.

Also, in her plea, McDonald admitted that she laundered money arising out of a business email compromise scam targeting the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (the “City”) in August of 2022.  In the course of this scheme, coconspirators impersonated a nonprofit organization having business with the City through email and convinced a City official to wire funds owed to the nonprofit organization, to a bank account at Truist Bank in the name of Gretson Company LLC.  The City wired a total of $3,905,837.05 to the Gretson Company LLC bank account at Truist Bank.  Prior to the August 2022 wire transfer, McDonald, using the identity of K.N., had requested eight counter checks from Truist Bank, which would be funded from wires fraudulently received from the City.  Then, when the money was placed in the Gretson Company account at Truist Bank, McDonald assigned payees and amounts to the counter checks and forged the signature K.N., and attempted to deposit a portion of these funds herself, while sending the remaining counter checks to other members of the conspiracy.  Ultimately, Truist Bank and the City were able to recover all the funds that were transmitted.

In total, court records show that 70 businesses and individuals fell victim to the business email compromise scheme conducted by this conspiracy, with 40 of those victims suffering financial losses they have yet to recover.  An additional 24 victims had their identities stolen by McDonald.

McDonald’s co-defendant, Nana Kwabena Amuah, was sentenced in November 2023 to 86 months in prison and was ordered to pay $4,695,442.81 in restitution.

Under federal law, McDonald must serve 85 percent of her prison sentence; and upon their release, both McDonald and Amuah will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for three years. 

Carlton S. Shier, IV, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Michael Stansbury, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Louisville Field Office; and Chief Lawrence Weathers, Lexington Police Department, jointly announced the sentences.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the FBI and Lexington Police.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Dieruf.