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ATHENS MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CONCEALING WIFE'S SCAM
By: CASEY KNAUPP, Staff Writer
The husband of an illegal Irish immigrant pleaded guilty Friday to concealing his wife's crime - scamming their East Texas friends of $517,000 in a real estate scheme involving her native soil.
Clyde Thomas Parrish Jr., 55, of Athens was initially indicted on fraud charges similar to his wife Julia Parrish. But on Friday, he pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony. He admitted that he knew about his wife's crime and concealed it, misleading FBI agents on July 14, 2004 and hampering the investigation.
He faces up to three years in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Jackson said attorneys agreed to a six-month sentence but his punishment will ultimately be decided by a federal district judge.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Guthrie allowed Parrish, who was defended by Greg Waldron, to remain free on a personal recognizance bond pending his sentencing hearing.
Parrish was indicted for conspiring with his wife to commit wire fraud from July 29, 2002, until July 21, 2004 in Henderson County. The 14-count indictment will be dismissed after he is sentenced.
Mrs. Parrish, also known as Victoria J. Parrish, approached people with a real estate investment proposal in which they would invest in land in Ireland and were promised a return of several hundred percent. She pleaded guilty in November 2004 to committing wire fraud on Dec. 1, 2003, through an e-mail communication she sent to one of her victims. She was sentenced to more than two years in prison, and was ordered to pay $517,000 in restitution to the victims and to report for deportation proceedings after serving the prison term.
Mrs. Parrish has served her prison term but remains detained pending her deportation, attorneys said Friday.
She admitted that she bilked a physician of $392,000. Although he is the primary victim and the only one named in her indictment, Mrs. Parrish acknowledged that other scammed investors included her husband's boss and owner of several mobile home companies for $85,000, a couple they had become good friends with for $20,000, and a construction company.
Her husband's indictment lists victims of $85,000, $20,000, and two persons for $10,000 each.
The two owners of the construction company did not invest money in the plot, but agreed to finance and build a cottage on the Parrishes' property. Mrs. Parrish apparently owed the company $30,000, a FBI agent who investigated the case said.
The agent said Mrs. Parrish became good friends with her victims. She took them out to dinner, socialized with them and even went on a trip to Alaska with one couple. After becoming close, she told her victims she had inherited land holdings in Ireland that would be developed and sold for a high profit - investors would see a return of 400 to 700 percent. As time passed, more opportunities arose for Mrs. Parrish's investors, he said.
Mrs. Parrish was charged with wire fraud after investigators discovered e-mails between Rose and Mrs. Parrish discussing the investment. She told him that her cousin, an attorney in Ireland, was handling the land holdings and investments. But phone records show no significant number or consistent calls to any one number in Ireland.
Mrs. Parrish is illegally in the country and claimed she came to the United States about 20 years ago. She met and married Parrish and used false Social Security numbers on several documents, including a 1996 bankruptcy filing in New Mexico. They lived in Athens since 2000, where Mrs. Parrish was active in the community.
Mrs. Parrish has used about five different names and three Social Security numbers since she has lived in the country.
Officials initially said Parrish told FBI agents he was unaware of the scheme and the large amounts of money his wife deposited into their bank account.
Mrs. Parrish forfeited property she bought with the fraudulent funds, including two pieces of land totaling 47 acres in Henderson County, a Lincoln Town Car, a Toyota Tundra pickup, a Destiny Fusion Series powered parachute, which is a "souped-up go-cart with an attached parachute," a trailer, tractor and other farm equipment, two Rolex watches and a Texas Senate chair she acquired at the Cattle Barons' Gala. Mrs. Parrish initially claimed the money was used solely for her gambling addiction, but later said she purchased items with about $80,000 of the stash.