NORCROSS, GA — A mother, who was already under arrest, is facing additional charges and her daughter is now facing initial charges after the police say the two were involved in threatening a witness during the mother’s trial.
After being arrested and charged on March 28, Melva Washington is now facing new charges of influencing witness and terroristic threats and her daughter, Elizabeth Cannon-Washington, is facing the same charges. Police are currently searching for the daughter and need the public’s help.
On Wednesday, April 4, the detective was attending the bond hearing for Melva at the Gwinnett County Jail. While there, he was approached by a witness that told him that Melva’s daughter, Elizabeth Cannon-Washington, contacted him. He said that Elizabeth threatened him if he provided testimony to authorities about Melva’s involvement in this or other crimes. It was also learned that Melva instructed Elizabeth to place fear in the witness and to demand $10,000 from him to post her bond, according to police.
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As of now, Elizabeth’s whereabouts are unknown. If anyone knows where she can be found, please contact Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477). Case Number: 18-011983
An investigation into Melva’s "law practice" began in February. A local attorney learned about Melva through two clients. According to the attorney, the two victims were promised that their immigration status would be fixed after providing a large sum of money to Melva. She was known throughout the Hispanic community as an immigration attorney and a preacher and who helped illegal immigrants get their DACA. When Melva would meet with clients, she told them that she could get their citizenship through DACA even if they didn’t meet the minimum requirements.
After one of the clients was denied citizenship, he noticed that Melva forged and submitted false information on his behalf. The client was convinced that he wasn’t Melva’s only victim.
The case was assigned to an Electronic and Financial Crimes detective. Detective Nermin Cultarevic discovered many more victims and obtained nine warrants for Melva’s arrest. The warrants were for: forgery 1st degree, two counts; false statements or writings, four counts; and unauthorized practice of a law profession, three counts. Melva was placed under arrest at her "church" at 6825 Jimmy Carter Boulevard Suite 1150 in unincorporated Norcross. She was booked into the Gwinnett County Jail March 28.
Cultarevic said, "This department would like to inform the public to not be afraid to come forward and testify in any case especially cases of this kind. Issues of victims and witnesses being afraid to come and talk were a constant hurdle to overcome. We would like to reiterate our commitment to pursue the truth in this and other matters and will not hesitate to take proper and necessary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of anyone willing to provide information to us.
"In addition to this matter, we would like to inform the media and the public about the instructions Melva in this case gave to mainly illegal immigrants on how to scam the government and fake the asylum situations. Namely, Melva, had in her possession detailed instructions in English and Spanish where potential candidates were lectured about what to say in order to make themselves eligible for asylum."
If there are any additional victims in this case, we encourage them to come forward and speak with the lead detective. Call 770 513-5300.
Photos courtesy Gwinnett County Police Department