Former Reality Show Cast Member and St. Louis DJ Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison for Multiple Frauds
Oct 27, 2023
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Missouri
ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey on Tuesday sentenced a former “Basketball Wives” reality show cast member and St. Louis, Missouri area radio personality to four years in prison for committing $564,000 worth of frauds, including tax fraud, bank fraud, insurance fraud and three separate pandemic fraud schemes.
Brittish Cierrah Williams, 33, pleaded guilty in May to 15 felonies: five counts of misuse of a Social Security number, four counts of bank fraud, three counts of making false statements to the IRS and three counts of wire fraud.
Assistant United States Attorney Diane Klocke called Williams’ conduct part of a roughly decade-long series of frauds during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. Her crimes continued after she was initially contacted and interviewed by federal agents and even after she was indicted, Klocke said.
Judge Autrey told Williams, “You knew what you were doing. You knew it was wrong and you did it anyway.” Williams will be on supervised release for five years after her release from prison and Judge Autrey ordered her to pay $564,069 in restitution.
“The defendant launched a scheme that led to a variety of financial crimes including tax fraud, bank fraud, COVID loan fraud and identity theft,” said IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Special Agent in Charge Thomas F. Murdock, St. Louis Field Office. “Ms. Williams displayed a blatant disregard for the victims of her deceit. Financial crimes of this magnitude deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Brittish Williams was getting paid to portray her celebrity lifestyle on “Basketball Wives” when in fact she was a typical fraudster,” said Special Agent in Charge Jay Greenberg of the FBI St. Louis Division. “After today’s sentencing, her reality is now a life of a felon.”
“This sentence demonstrates our commitment to hold accountable those who intentionally misuse Social Security numbers for their own personal gain,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “Ms. Williams’ criminal actions brought financial harm upon individuals, businesses, and government programs, damages the integrity of Social Security numbers. I thank the FBI and the IRS-CI for their investigative efforts, and I thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Special Assistant United States Attorney Diane Klocke for prosecuting this case.”
In her plea agreement, Williams admitted under-reporting her income on tax returns for 2017-2019 and falsely claiming a niece and nephew as dependents, thereby avoiding $29,366 in tax.
She fraudulently used Social Security numbers not assigned to her to open accounts with credit card companies and banks. When she failed to pay on the accounts, victim companies lost $28,537.
Williams also used those Social Security numbers to open bank accounts and commit bank fraud. She deposited thousands of dollars’ worth of checks taken from other peoples’ accounts without their knowledge and then withdrew the money, causing another $23,850 in losses.
Williams admitted submitting nine applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, intended to help struggling business during the pandemic. The applications contained false information about business income and payroll, as well as her criminal history. She used the $144,400 that resulted from two of the applications to fund her personal lifestyle, her plea agreement says.
Williams also received $52,647 from four Paycheck Protection Program loans.
After her indictment, Williams on Jan. 3, 2022, applied for the California COVID-19 Rent Relief program, falsely claiming that she was a state resident with a total annual household income of $50,000 and that she couldn’t pay her rent due to a “Reduction in hours of work” due to the pandemic, her plea agreement says. She received $27,801. She had stopped paying rent in July of 2021 and she failed to disclose that her $3,803 rent was more than reimbursed by a $4,000 payment from the network that produces “Basketball Wives LA.” Her work hours and pay were not reduced by the pandemic.
Williams submitted fake medical bills to at least one insurance company, resulting in $139,479.92 paid to her, co-conspirators or both.
Finally, Williams has not filed annual tax returns since her indictment in October of 2021. She listed herself as “exempt” on a form with her radio station employer resulting in no taxes being withheld from her $90,000 salary, her plea says. Williams is no longer employed by the station.
The total known actual and intended losses from all the frauds and schemes, including the relevant conduct listed in the plea agreement, is $564,069.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration and the FBI. Special Assistant United States Attorney Diane Klocke is handling the case for the Eastern District of Missouri.
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