Operation Fraud Street Mafia: Prison inmate charged for orchestrating two national crime schemes

Kate Nemarich Image
Saturday, February 24, 2024
Prison inmate charged for orchestrating two national crime schemes
Federal investigators announced two massive national crime schemes, both allegedly operated by one man serving a 50-year to life prison sentence.

KERN COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- On Friday, Federal investigators, including the US Attorney's Office, FBI, DEA, and IRS, announced two massive national crime schemes, both allegedly operated by one man serving a 50-year to life prison sentence in Kern Valley State Prison.

"As the case demonstrates, greed and crime aren't necessarily thwarted by prison walls," said Pete Vainauskas, DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge.

Kristopher Thomas, a member of the Main Street Mafia Crips from Southern Los Angeles, has been in prison since December 2010 for the murder of a rival gang member.

However, in recent years, federal agents say he's been running both a drug trafficking operation and a $550 million attempted tax fraud scheme. It's an investigation they're calling Operation Fraud Street Mafia.

Investigators said Thomas used contraband cellphones to coordinate shipments of methamphetamine to at least four states and to smuggle fentanyl into the prison.

"The DEA initially identified Thomas as a major source of methamphetamine being shipped from California to Hawaii for distribution there," said Phillip Talbert, US Attorney. "Ultimately, the DEA seized about 90 lbs of methamphetamine in Hawaii that Thomas had directed to be shipped there."

Agents said overall, more than 180 pounds of methamphetamine and 14 pounds of fentanyl were seized, along with nearly 10 pounds each of heroin and cocaine.

Five others are being charged alongside Thomas in the trafficking case. They include Justin Damonte Mitchell, 31, of Los Angeles; Derrick D. Charles, 41, a former inmate at KVSP; Natasha Michelle Bailey, 44, of Bakersfield; Antrell Maeshack Sr., 41, of Santa Clarita; and Marie Joo-Yeon Choi, 29, of Los Angeles.

DEA agents said phones and drugs were smuggled to Thomas in prison by visitors.

During the drug investigation, investigators said wiretaps on both the contraband phones and a prison-issued tablet uncovered Thomas was running a multi-million dollar tax refund scheme.

"Together, we discovered individuals associated with the Main Street Mafia Crips submitted more than $550 million in fraudulent applications for Employee Retention Credits, a program designed to assist companies that maintained American jobs during the pandemic," said Crosby Brackett, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge.

The FBI said many applications were flagged as fraudulent, but Thomas and his associates collected at least two point six million dollars.

Three other people were arrested in the tax fraud scheme, including Thomas's mother, Kettisha Thompson-Dozier, 55, and her spouse Charmane Dozier, 44, both of Waldorf, Maryland, and Sharon Vance, 36, of Hawthorne, California.

The drug trafficking and the tax fraud scheme are being prosecuted separately. For the drug trafficking charges, Thomas faces ten years to life in prison, and for the tax fraud, he could face a maximum of five years. A preliminary hearing for both cases will be held on March 7th.

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