The racketeering case involving Bibb County jail inmates’ accounts could involve up to 1,000 victims, authorities said Thursday.
Investigators also are researching whether money from alleged credit card fraud also was credited to inmates’ accounts in the state prison system.
More details about the case were revealed during a bond hearing Thursday for Kodie Thomas Frank DiDiego, one of 19 people charged with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act as part of the scheme.
In his argument opposing DiDiego’s being granted a bond, prosecutor John Regan said the case is one of the largest he’s ever seen.
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DiDiego and his mother, 41-year-old Denise Krieger, are accused of using stolen credit card information to deposit money into jail inmates’ accounts in exchange for kickbacks.
Along with the RICO charge, DiDiego is charged with 58 counts of identity fraud, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and participation in criminal street gang activity. Authorities have alleged that he and his mother belong to the Westside Gangsta Crips street gang.
A judge denied bond for DiDiego on Thursday, but he said the issue could be brought back for reconsideration.
In his argument for DiDiego to receive a bond, Macon attorney Gregory Bushway said DiDiego isn’t a gang member and he has a type of diabetes that prevents him from being a flight risk.
Bushway said he’s been told the gang charge stems from a rap video discovered at his client’s home. A local rapper invited DiDiego to participate in the filming a couple years ago, and he’s shown along with 35 to 40 other people.
“That is the main tie to his being involved in a gang,” Bushway said.
Regan said DiDiego was filmed with documented gang members.
Gang paraphernalia also was found in his home, along with data storage drives that included details of the identity theft and credit card fraud scheme, he said.
Medical staff at the jail have had difficulty managing DiDiego’s “brittle diabetes” condition, Bushway said. Brittle diabetics make up only about 0.3 percent of the diabetic population, he said.
Before his arrest, DiDiego was hospitalized for several days in March and then again in April.
“They couldn’t get his sugar count under control,” Bushway said
He’s spent time in the jail infirmary since his arrest June 26.
Regan countered that DiDiego can be taken to the hospital if he needs medical care beyond what the jail medical staff can offer.
Bushway asked the judge to consider releasing DiDiego with the condition that he wear an ankle monitor, saying he doesn’t have a criminal record.
Arrest warrants allege that DiDiego and Krieger, both of Macon, made “regular, fraudulent financial transaction card transfers or deposits” in May and June. Authorities still are investigating when the alleged fraud began.
As part of the scheme, authorities contend, inmates agreed to accept deposits with the understanding that they would get more than they needed to post bond. Once released, the inmates paid a core group involved in the scheme the remaining balance from the account.
Krieger, who is charged with 194 counts of identity fraud, a RICO violation, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and participation in criminal street gang activity, is being held without bond at the county jail.
Seventeen others charged with RICO violations and multiple counts of financial identity fraud are accused of “knowingly and willingly” receiving the stolen funds while being held at the jail. Three others are charged with crimes related to the case.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.