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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A husband and wife are both facing charges in connection with an alleged home restoration scam, and it all unfolded after the couple had what they thought was a private conversation.
Twenty-seven-year-old Everlina Johnson was charged Friday with criminal conspiracy and dealing with proceedings in illegal activity after authorities say she moved $170,000 from her husband’s bank account into hers. Money that was allegedly stolen from unsuspecting fire victims.
“They seem like really good people, you know? So I’m pretty sure, if people are giving their money to them, that they wouldn’t give it to somebody that didn’t seem like they’re really nice,” neighbor Andreau Coto said.
Johnson’s husband, 45-year-old Jeffrey McGurk, was charged earlier this year with 121 counts of theft, insurance fraud and conspiracy. Investigators say McGurk bilked 25 victims out of tens of thousands of dollars, running a scheme where he’d promise to help fire victims restore their homes with his fire restoration company.
Authorities say McGurk would listen to a police scanner, then arrive at fire scenes, offering his services.
“He took advantage of the fact that we were victims,” alleged victim Tonya Payne said. “Our nerves were shot that day. We never had a fire. We never had to deal with that.”
The criminal complaint says that while McGurk was locked up in the Allegheny County Jail, recorded conversations between he and Johnson prove he told her to take money out of his account and move it into another that only has her name listed so they could try and move the money before the account was frozen.