TAMPA — Sharron Laverne Parrish Jr., the man accused of scamming Apple Stores out of nearly $310,000 by fooling clerks into taking depleted debit cards, was sentenced Friday to nearly five years in federal prison.
Parrish, who has 4 cents in his Pinellas County Jail commissary account, was ordered to pay $312,748.99 in restitution, a sum that includes proceeds of similar scams at two hotels and a car rental company.
He could have reduced his 57-month sentence by helping authorities build a case against a suspected accomplice, but did not. He feared retaliation, attorney Adam Allen told U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew.
"He's scared to do it," Allen said. "That's the bottom line."
Parrish, 25, spoke briefly, his soft voice quavering.
"I'm very sorry to bring this to the court," he told the judge. "It's embarrassing to me and my family."
He turned his eyes to a cluster of women in the back of the courtroom and said, "To my grandmother that raised me, loved me and guided me, I especially want to apologize."
Parrish entered into a plea agreement in September admitting to one count of wire fraud.
The Secret Service alleged that Parrish hit Apple stores in 16 states. When his debit cards were declined, he pretended to call his bank, then provided clerks with fake authorization codes.
He also persuaded a Hilton hotel in Tampa, a Westin in Seattle and an Enterprise car rental agency to accept his overrides.
The specific codes didn't matter. They were simply a way for clerks to document that approval had been given.
His defense attorney said Parrish wasn't sophisticated enough to do all that on his own. He has a history of getting caught up in the plans of people who claim to care for him, Allen said.
In explaining Parrish's fear of retaliation, Allen said his client had suffered physical abuse his whole life. Details were not made public. Allen wrote a confidential memo to the judge.
The federal prosecutor, Mandy Reidel, acknowledged that Parrish's personal history was "horrendous and tragic."
But she pointed out Parrish's successes with Apple clerks. He didn't seem scared to her.
"He outsmarted them, outwitted them and likely outcharmed them," she said.
Store clerks weren't the only ones susceptible.
The prosecutor said Parrish was getting a haircut when agents arrived to arrest him.
He asked them to let him finish the haircut.
The agents agreed.
He ran out a back door, Reidel said, and wasn't found for weeks.
Contact Patty Ryan at email@example.com or (813) 226-3382.