Georgia Inmate Allegedly Stole Millions From Billionaires

Arthur Cofield allegedly used contraband phone to impersonate movie mogul Sidney Kimmel
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2022 5:06 AM CDT
Georgia Inmate Allegedly Stole Millions From Billionaires
Deputy Warden of Security Keith Eutsey, left, and Warden Bruce Chatman walk long rows of barbed wire at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Ga.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)

A Georgia inmate serving time in a maximum security unit for armed robbery became a much more sophisticated criminal behind bars, using contraband phones to impersonate at least one billionaire and steal more than $10 million, authorities say. Federal agents believe 31-year-old Arthur Lee Cofield Jr. convinced customer service representatives at Charles Schwab that he was billionaire movie mogul Sidney Kimmel and had $11 million wired to an Idaho company in June 2020 for the purchases of more than 6,000 one-ounce gold coins, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. At the time, Cofield was being held in the Georgia Department of Corrections’ Special Management Unit. He is now in federal custody.

With the help of two alleged co-conspirators, some of the money was used to buy a $4.4 million mansion in Atlanta. Charles Schwab says Kimmel, 94, was fully reimbursed, reports the Washington Post. Cofield has only been charged in connection with the Kimmel case so far, but prosecutors believe he stole millions from other wealthy individuals, including Nicole Wertheim, the wife of Florida billionaire Herbert Wertheim. Investigators suspect Cofield paid off corrections workers to get contraband phones, the Journal-Constitution reports. He has also been charged with ordering a shooting that left an Atlanta man paralyzed from the waist down. The victim had allegedly become involved with a woman Cofield had a phone relationship with.

Cofield was indicted on federal charges in 2020, when US Attorney Byung J. Pak said "the allure of millions of dollars in gold, coupled with contraband prison cellphones, allegedly was enough for Cofield to commit a brazen million-dollar fraud scheme from the confines of his prison cell." The Journal-Constitution says recent court filings and other documents revealed that Kimmel was the victim and there may be others. The paper notes that Cofield, who formed a gang and started calling himself "Yap Lavish" in prison, was sentenced for armed robbery just after he turned 16. In that crime, he stole $2,600 from a bank branch in an Atlanta suburb, but a dye pack in the money exploded just after he left the bank. (Read more inmates stories.)

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