COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Twenty-two people connected with a so-called Irish traveler community in western South Carolina have agreed to plea agreements after they were accused of being part of an organized crime ring.
News outlets report that each defendant is pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering in exchange for the dropping of other federal charges. The plea agreements were filed in Columbia federal court on Thursday.
An August indictment says the defendants are residents of the Murphy Village community near North Augusta. It says travelers are itinerant laborers and salesmen who go door to door and speak a dialect of English and Gaelic called “Cant,” in addition to American English.
The indictment accused them of committing fraud to obtain things such as life insurance benefits and food stamps.