Authorities in Georgia said an inmate allegedly impersonated a California billionaire and made away with $11 million while he was being held in a maximum-security lock-up. According to FOX News, the heist is said to be one of the biggest to be executed from inside a prison in the United States.
The inmate, identified as 31-year-old Arthur Lee Cofield Jr., allegedly stole the money from billionaire film producer Sidney Kimmel. Cofield allegedly carried out the act while he was being held at the Georgia Department of Corrections’ Special Management Unit. The suspect, who is serving a 14-year prison sentence for armed robbery, allegedly used smuggled cell phones to open a bank account in the name of the 94-year-old billionaire.
The inmate allegedly bought 6,106 American Eagle one-ounce gold coins with some of the stolen $11 million. That was after he had the funds transferred from Kimmel’s Charles Schwab account into an Idaho-based company.
And following that transfer, federal prosecutors said they believe the inmate allegedly had a private jet fly the coins to Atlanta. He is said to have used $4.4 million of the stolen money to purchase a home in Buckhead.
The bank ultimately repaid Kimmel in full after the heist was unfolded. But the incident cast a spotlight on the corrections department’s shortcomings in clamping down on unlawful activities in its prisons, FOX News reported.
Cofield was reportedly moved to the Special Management Unit after he allegedly instructed his fellow gang members to fatally shoot a rival. The 31-year-old suspect was locked up when he ordered that hit.
Besides Cofield, two other individuals – a father and daughter – have also been indicted in connection with the $11 million heist. The three suspects, who have been charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering, have pleaded not guilty.
Federal prosecutors at a past bond hearing said that Cofield may also have likely stolen $2.5 from the wife of a Florida billionaire after he gained access to her account, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. That victim was identified as Nicole Wertheim. She is married to Herbert Wertheim.