A Georgia inmate is accused of stealing millions of dollars from a billionaire Hollywood producer to purchase gold coins and a house while locked up inside a maximum security prison.
According to court filings via the Atlanta Constitution-Journal, Arthur Lee Confield Jr., 31, allegedly impersonated movie mogul Sidney Kimmel, 94, and convinced financial services company Charles Schwab to wire $11 million from the billionaire’s bank account to a company in Idaho to purchase 6,106 American Eagle gold coins.
The inmate was then able to traffic the coins from Boise, Idaho, to Atlanta on a private jet. He then used some of the money to buy a $4.4 million home in the affluent neighborhood of Buckhead.
While allegedly committing these crimes, Cofield was inside a maximum-security prison — run by the Georgia Department of Corrections’ Special Management Unit — serving a 14-year sentence for armed robbery. He used multiple contraband cell phones to make fraudulent purchases in Kimmel’s name.
Prosecutors also allege that the accused suspect was aided by two co-conspirators, Eldridge Bennett, 65, and his daughter, Eliayah Bennett, 27.
All three have been charged for their involvement in the scheme — with Cofield facing conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering charges. Each one has pled not guilty.
“Cofield was a shrewd, intelligent individual who could con you out of millions,” said Jose Morales, a warden with Special Management Unit when the suspect was there, per the Atlanta newspaper.
The competency of the Georgia Department of Corrections’s management has also been called into question, considering that Cofield was able to sneak phones into the facility consistently.
“They know what he’s doing with cell phones and he’s still getting them in? What does that tell you?” said Anthony Schembri, a former New York City corrections commissioner, via the Journal. “This should be a training example for correctional systems across the country.”
The alleged crimes were relatively unknown since authorities started unraveling the details in 2020, but more has been revealed since the Journal’s review of the court filings.
Cofield was released from the state facility in 2021 following the completion of his armed robbery sentence and has since been held in federal custody. He is also facing attempted murder charges for allegedly organizing a shooting that paralyzed a victim from the waist down.
Prosecutors believe that Kimmel may not have been the only target of Cofield, as the inmate may have also defrauded other billionaires.
Kimmel — who has produced Hollywood films such as Moneyball and Crazy Rich Asians — has been fully reimbursed by Charles Schwab.
You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.