A former South Carolina postmaster admitted this week to scamming people out of $300,000 by claiming movie producer Tyler Perry was about to turn her friend’s “The Struggle of Love” book into a movie or reality TV show.
Patricia Sullivan, former postmaster for Greenville County, and friend Sharon Johnson pled guilty this week to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The charge carries up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date hasn’t been scheduled.
Sullivan, former postmaster for Greenville County, and Johnson told investors they were on the verge of great wealth, but needed bridge loans or other financial help until the project with Perry reached fruition, U.S. Attorney Beth Drake said.
Sullivan, 66, and Johnson, 50, promised large returns to their investors in exchange for the loans. No book deal existed with Perry, and the victims lost the money they loaned or invested, Drake said.
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To make themselves appear successful, Sullivan and Johnson squatted in several mansions, took photos and posted them on Facebook, according to prosecutors. They created fake documents from an accounting firm that “documented” the sale of the book and a huge payout to come, as well as a bogus Wells Fargo statement that showed millions of dollars as pending.
Sullivan operated a company called HYPD Publishing. In 2009, HYPD published Johnson’s book. Sullivan and Johnson soon began to spin the story that Perry had bought the rights to “The Struggle of Love,” prosecutors said.
U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents investigated the case.
Staff researcher Maria David contributed.