A former postmaster for Greenville County has pleaded guilty for her part in a bizarre scam that involved her and another woman sneaking into mansions and claiming they were helping producer Tyler Perry make a new film.
66-year-old Patricia Sullivan and 50-year-old Sharon Johnson pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Prosecutors said the two women used a 2009 book Johnson authored called “The Struggle of Love” to scam more than $300,000 by convincing their supporters that Tyler Perry had purchased the book’s rights and planned to make a movie or reality TV show. Sullivan operated a company called HYPD Publishing, which published the book.
The pair asked for bridge loans or other financial assistance until the project finished, promising interest when they paid it back. To make themselves appear successful, Sullivan and Johnson “squatted” in several mansions and posted photos of themselves on Facebook, according to court documents. They also created fictitious documents from an accounting firm that “documented” the sale of the book and a huge payout to come. Prosecutors said the pair also created a phony Wells Fargo statement that showed millions of dollars as pending.
Prosecutors said victims lost approximately $300,000 in money loaned/invested in the project. Both Johnson and Sullivan face up to 20 years in prison when sentenced at a later date, as well as up to $250,000 in fines.
As Greenville Postmaster, Sullivan was responsible for four stations, two finance units and three contract stations, according to a bio from the U.S. Postal Service. She was the first minority and female to hold the title. Greenville city officials honored her by designating May 2, 2008 as “Patricia Sullivan Day,” according to news reports at the time.