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Date: 09-20-2022

Case Style:

United States of America v. Darnell Khan

Case Number: 2:21-cr-00502

Judge: Richard M. Gergel

Court: United States District Court for the District of South Carolina (Charleston County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office

Defendant's Attorney:

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Description: Charleston, South Carolina criminal law lawyer represented Defendant charged with extort and defraud military members that was operated from the South Carolina Department of Correction (SCDC).

While serving a 25-year sentence in SCDC for voluntary manslaughter and attempted armed robbery, Darnell Khan, age 39, smuggled smartphones into SCDC and used the internet to join internet dating websites. Once on the internet dating websites, Khan would pose as a young woman, target young men who were in the military, and solicit nude photographs. Once the photographs were received, Khan and others posed as the father of the young woman, claimed that the young woman was underage, and accused the military member of being in possession of child pornography. Khan and others then threatened to have the military members arrested or dishonorably discharged unless they paid money.

From January 2017 to July 2017, due to this extortion, service members transferred funds to Khan totaling $62,500.71, which investigators traced to at least 40 victims.

“Mr. Khan knowingly used deceit to prey on those who serve our nation. This is inexcusable,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs. “This case also shows that nothing good comes from smartphones in prison. Inmates use them to continue criminal activity behind bars, and we hope this prosecution helps state officials in their efforts to eliminate and disable contraband phones in prison.”

“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service will not tolerate these organized criminals targeting our service members,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher Dillard, Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect our Warfighters from sextortion crimes and hold these criminals accountable.”

“Mr. Khan deserves to be held fully accountable for his leading role in this reprehensible and criminal network targeting military service members,” said Special Agent in Charge Erin Carmichael of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Carolinas Field Office. “NCIS will not tolerate the existence of sextortion rings like this that degrade the readiness of our military force. NCIS thanks the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their substantial efforts to keep our service members and their families safe from harm.”

“This is another in a long line of cases that would be stopped if we had the ability to jam cellphone signals in state prisons,” said Bryan Stirling, Director of SCDC. “I am calling on Congress to support a hearing on the Cellphone Jamming Reform Act and allow states to use technology to stop inmates from using these illegal phones to prey on innocent victims.”

United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel sentenced Khan to 84 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. This sentence will be served after Khan completes his 25-year state prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal system.

This case was investigated by DCIS, NCIS, and SCDC. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine Orville and Amy Bower prosecuted the case.


Outcome: The defendant was committed to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to be imprisoned for a total term of eighty-four (84) months; said term to run consecutively to the state terms of imprisonment the defendant is serving in Docket Numbers 11-GS-40-3251, 3252, and 3253. The defendant shall pay a $100.00 special assessment fee and restitution in the amount of $30,943.00 both due beginning immediately. The restitution amount of $8,650.00 of the total restitution is to be paid jointly and severally with codefendant Lakeisha Norris. The court makes the following recommendations to the Bureau of Prisons: the defendant shall be designated to the facility closest to Columbia, SC to facilitate family visitation. The defendant is remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal. Upon release from imprisonment, the defendant shall be on supervised release for a term of three (3) years. While on supervised release, the defendant shall comply with the mandatory and standard conditions of supervision and the following special conditions. 1. You must pay any remaining unpaid assessment and restitution balance imposed by the Court in minimum monthly installments of $100.00 to commence 60 days after release from custody (or following the imposition of sentence if a time served or probation case). The payments shall be made payable to Clerk, U.S. District Court and mailed to PO Box 835, Charleston, South Carolina 29402. Interest on any restitution ordered is waived. Payments shall be adjusted accordingly, based upon your ability to pay as determined by the Court.

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