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Fate of last defendant in Jamaican lottery scam goes to jury

BISMARCK, N.D. — A federal jury in North Dakota has begun deliberating the fate of a Rhode Island woman accused in a Jamaican lottery scam that authorities say bilked at least 90 mostly elderly Americans out of more than $5.7 million.

Twenty-eight-year-old Melinda Bulgin faces conspiracy, fraud and money laundering charges. The case went to the jury Thursday in the fourth day of her trial.

The case is believed to be the first large-scale Jamaican lottery scam tried in U.S. courts. It began in 2011 when an elderly North Dakota woman lost her life savings. Authorities eventually charged 27 people. All except Bulgin pleaded guilty or were convicted earlier.

Bulgin is accused of collecting money and funneling it between the U.S. and Jamaica, taking advantage of cheap flights she got through her airline job.