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More guilty pleas in Chamico case

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite announced Wednesday that Bogalusa residents Charles E. “Chuck” Mizell Jr., 44, and James Creel, 48, Angie’s William Darryl King, 47, and Franklinton’s Tenille Nelson, 34, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud for their participation in a scheme to defraud the Louisiana Workforce Commission of unemployment benefits. Mizell also pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud.

In April, Mizell, Creel King and Nielson were indicted, along with Jacqueline Myers, Jerry Athley, David Lowe, Terry Castilow and Roger Nadeau, for mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

According to the indictment, beginning at a time unknown but no later than on or about Sept. 24, 2009, and continuing through on or about Jan. 11, 2014, Mizell, Castilow, King, Lowe, Creel, Athley, Nielson, Myers and Nadeau conspired to defraud the Louisiana Workforce Commission of money and property by means of false and fraudulent representations, pretenses and promises, well knowing the representations, pretenses and promises were false, and mailed and caused to be mailed through the United States Postal Service unemployment benefit claim forms for the purpose of obtaining UI benefits to which they were not entitled.

Specifically, at the time Castilow, King, Lowe, Creel, Athley, Nielson, Myers and Nadeau applied for UI benefits and made weekly representations to LWC that they were unemployed and not getting paid. Mizell actually employed them at Chamico, Inc., a Bogalusa construction company that concentrates on public, municipal and industrial contracts.

Mizell was the president of Chamico and, according to the factual bases, he asked those employees to fraudulently file for unemployment so he would not have to pay their full salaries during tough economic times for Chamico. The employees would each get cash from Chamico during the weeks they were claiming unemployment benefits and reporting that they were not working and not getting any income from work.

Mizell, King, Nielson, and Creel each face not more than five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years supervised release on the conspiracy conviction. Mizell faces an additional sentence of not more than 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on each of the five counts of mail fraud. Sentencing for all defendants scheduled for Dec. 17.

The trial of Nadeau, the only remaining defendant, is scheduled for Sept. 15.

The case was investigated by the Department of Labor-OIG and the Federal Bureau of

Investigation, with assistance from the Louisiana Workforce Commission. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Emily K. Greenfield.