Scheme to launder money from Dollywood's My People Fund unravels

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SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- An indictment unsealed this week alleges five people conspired to commit theft and launder money from the Dollywood Foundation's My People Fund between December of last year and June.

Dolly Parton created the fund in order to help victims who lost their homes and jobs after November's wildfires in Sevier County.

The indictment alleges Chad Alan Chambers, 35, of Sevierville, engaged in an illegal scheme to obtain grant money from the Dollywood Foundation's My People Fund between December 2016 and June 2017, even though he was ineligible to receive the money.

Chambers reportedly gave the address of an actual property and other information to the Dollywood Foundation to get the money, and the indictment alleges Chambers picked up and filled out an application with this false information with the intent to commit theft and money laundering. Once he received the funds, the indictment says Chambers used the money for his personal benefit.

Chambers listed a Fox Run property and received three checks for $1,000 from the My People Fund — one on Dec. 15, 2016, and two on February 27, 2017 — for said property. The indictment states he was not given permission to list this property by the owners and that he therefore made the claim with the intent to deprive the property owner.

Chambers has been charged with one count of money laundering, one count of criminal conspiracy, one count of theft over $500, and one count of theft over $1,000. His arraignment is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 25.

The attorney general believes he conspired with four others in the scheme: Debra Kay Catlett, 60, of Sevierville; Ammie Grimmett Lyons, 42, of Sevierville; Esther Elizabeth Pridemore, 42, of Dandridge; and Rocco Gluseppe Boscaglia, 53, of Dandridge.

The indictment accuses Catlett promoted the money laundering by helping Chambers, Lyons, Boscaglia and/or Pridemore to identify four properties to list on claims in order to gain access to the My People Fund. Catlett has been charged with one count of money laundering, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of theft over $1,000. Her arraignment is set for 9 a.m. Oct 16.

Boscaglia also is accused in the money laundering scheme — the indictment shows he listed a Village Place property on a form to receive money from the My People Fund.

Boscaglia allegedly received a check from the fund for $1,000 on Dec. 15, 2016, without the owners' consent and with the intent to deprive them of that money. The indictment says he did so in conspiracy with Catlett, Chambers, Lyons and Pridemore — Boscaglia has been charged with one count of money laundering, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of theft over $500. His arraignment is set for 9 a.m. on October 16.

Pridemore has been charged with violation of probation for theft and forgery, and Lyons has been charged with two counts of writing worthless checks and one count of having drug paraphernalia.


Chad Chambers mugshot