Washington man may plea in Dillingham scam case
The case of an enormously successful fraudster is likely to come to a quiet resolution this month, as a federal defense attorney for Floyd Jay Mann, 55, has filed a notice of his intent to plead guilty.
Mann, of Puyallup, Wash., was indicted by a federal grand jury last year on 11 counts of wire fraud and eight counts of money laundering, after the FBI unraveled his devastating scam. He is accused of taking close to $3 million from more than a dozen victims, mostly from Dillingham, and gambling the money away at casinos in the Tacoma area. If convicted, he is likely to spend between 10 and 20 years in prison.
His wife, Cheryl D. Mann, has already pleaded guilty to defrauding the Social Security Administration as she collected tens of thousands of dollars in need-based assistance at the same time she and Jay racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in casino winnings. She faces up to five years in prison, though the federal prosecutor will recommend the low end of the sentencing range in return for the plea.
Assistant federal defender Jamie McGrady, who represents Mann, wrote that her client "wishes to accept responsibility and avoid the specter of a lengthy and costly trial," and that he intends to "plead to all counts in the indictment."
McGrady said she advised her client that "many" of the allegations in the federal government's case against Mann "are not supported by the evidence thus far provided" in the discovery process, nor had the names of the "alleged victims" been turned over to the defense. In pleading to all 19 counts in the indictment, McGrady says her client hopes to "leave open for debate the amount of loss and other forms of culpability" associated with his victims.
The federal prosecutor assigned to the case, Aunnie Steward, has not backed down an inch since Mann was arrested on the indicted charges in September. To the contrary, she has several times sought his remand to custody for violating court-ordered drug treatment requirements. Just a month into his pretrial release, Mann was caught diluting his urinalysis, then later skipped his mandated counseling sessions. "The defendant was required to participate in drug treatment once a week," Steward wrote in April, adding that Mann "has only attended three times in four months." Her requests that Mann be held in custody until trial have been denied.
If Steward is to be believed, Jay Mann made up "elaborate lies" nearly every day for four years as he continued to treat his victims like a cash machine. By night, says Steward, Mann pulled slots at the Emerald Queen Casino in Fife, Wash., racking up $1 million in winnings between 2012 and 2016. In her own plea agreement, Cheryl Mann admitted to winning at least $124,000 at Emerald Queen, an amount which counted only the "jackpots of $1,200 or greater" for which tax forms were issued.
Mann's scam victims believed a prescription drug had caused him cancer, and that a fictitious lawsuit with a major pharmaceutical company would soon settle and pay him tens of millions of dollars. They believed that payout depended on his clean bill of health, and their donations to the "Save Jay" cause were paying both his medical and legal bills.
It is believed that Mann's Puyallup neighbors Clara "Tookie" Wren and her brother John, originally from Dillingham, were among his earliest victims, and that they linked family and friends from Dillingham into the scheme.
Steward, who has reviewed the four years' worth of evidence, including text messages sent between Mann, his unnamed co-conspirators, and the victims, has a very dim view of Mann's deeds.
"The defendant made up lies about a multitude of illnesses that required several kidney transplants, a pancreas procedure, and heart surgery. The defendant made up stories about security costs, corrupt judges, FBI involvement, and other reasons that he needed money, while promising that he would share the proceeds when the settlement was released so that everyone would get a multiplier of the amount they gave him," she wrote in April.
These lies played on their sympathies, she said. Many of Mann's victims, identified independent of the federal investigation, are faithful members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
"Several elderly Alaskan victims of the defendant's lost their homes as they missed mortgage payments to 'Save Jay,'" Steward wrote. "One elderly victim was hoping to receive his portion of the settlement money to pay for cancer treatment. That victim died waiting for the fake settlement money."
Another lost her business, and another was fired by his local employers for suspected embezzlement, after both had invested most of their assets into a scheme they believed would soon pay them out millions, too.
"The defendant knew about these victims and their financial plight, and yet he continued his fraudulent scheme for several years more," Steward wrote.
A trial that would likely have put most of these victims on the stand to testify about the scam and their losses may now be avoided. Mann's change of plea hearing is scheduled in Anchorage federal court for June 28.