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2nd guilty plea entered in shipper fraud case

The indictment says Harmoni Shipping solicited business by purporting to be an international shipping company and asking customers for payments. The Griswolds then would hire a third party, such as UPS, to ship the goods, but prosecutors said they never intended to pay the party that did the work.

By HOLBROOK MOHR and JEFF AMY
The Associated Press

8/15/2013

JACKSON, Miss. — A woman has pleaded guilty as part of the fraud investigation of a shipping company in south Mississippi.

Jennifer Griswold waived indictment and pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of withholding information on a crime, says her lawyer, Peter Barrett.

Griswold had been charged with conspiracy, but agreed to plead guilty to the other charge.

Dustin Lee Griswold and Jennifer Griswold were indicted May 14 on charges related to Harmoni Shipping in Biloxi. The Griswolds are married.

Dustin Griswold was charged with one count of conspiracy and 15 counts of fraud, but he pleaded guilty only to the conspiracy count on Aug. 7 in U.S. District Court in Gulfport. The court's website didn't say when he will be sentenced.

Dustin Griswold has been held without bond. U.S. Magistrate John Roper wrote in a detention order in June that Dustin Griswold had been a fugitive from justice in 2006 and 2009 and had been convicted of assault and theft charges in the past.

Jennifer Griswold remains free on $25,000 bond, according to online court records.

The indictment says Harmoni Shipping solicited business by purporting to be an international shipping company and asking customers for payments. The Griswolds then would hire a third party, such as UPS, to ship the goods, but prosecutors said they never intended to pay the party that did the work.

Prosecutors said the alleged scheme operated from March to July 2009.

In a case described in the indictment, the Griswolds allegedly told a company called AWM Transportation that Harmoni Shipping owned multiple trucks and could move their goods across the country. AWM Transportation hired Harmoni Shipping, but Harmoni used UPS to move the products, the indictment says.

Prosecutors say the Griswold's dodged attempts by UPS to collect $29,000 in unpaid bills.

The Griswolds also were accused of trying to solicit money from AWM Transportation by saying that the company's freight was "being held for ransom on the side of the road," the indictment said.

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