A Marine veteran running a scam charity called Marines and Mickey pleaded guilty to wire fraud, according to the United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina.
John Shannon Simpson faces 20 years in prison or and/or a fine of $250,000, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Sherri A. Lydon, District of South Carolina.
Feds say the 43 year-old founder of the charity bilked people into donating money to help send Marines and families to Disney resorts and to cover the cost of attending boot camp graduation.
Victims of the scam included active-duty Marines, and Cathy Wells, whose son, Lance Cpl. Skip Wells, was killed in the 2015 attack on the military recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to a report from the Charlotte Observer.
According to court documents, Wells gave nearly $135,000 dollars to the charity, some from her son’s death benefits.
From 2014–2016, Simpson raised nearly $481,000, but court documents said he pocketed $391,000 for his own “personal use and enrichment.”
According to court documents, Simpson made false claims about his service to solicit donations to include lying about being a drill instructor and recon Marine.
Court documents detail that Simpson served less than five years in the Corps and received a bad conduct discharge in 1998.
The FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigated the case.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.