Feds in Georgia Reveal Massive CARES Act Fraud

 

Two Georgia residents in two separate cases allegedly committed massive Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act fraud while another Georgia resident admitted in federal court to committing such fraud.

In the first case, federal officials took two Columbus residents into custody after a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging them both with wire fraud and theft of government property related to the CARES Act. This, according to a press release that officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia published this week.

Officials charged Curtis Porch, 48, and Dereen Porch, 43, with three counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of government property. If convicted, the two defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for wire theft and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for theft of government property.

“According to the filed indictment, the defendants allegedly submitted fraudulent loan applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in June and July 2020, seeking CARES Act money for shell companies that suffered no losses as a result of harm related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the press release said.

“The government alleges that companies either did not exist, did not conduct business or only existed on paper. As a result of the fraud, the defendants are accused of stealing or converting $364,200 from SBA.”

Meanwhile, officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia said in a separate press release this week that an Augusta woman admitted to submitting loan applications containing knowingly false representations in an effort to secure COVID-19 relief loans. Federal officials sentenced Jacinthia Williams, 44, of Augusta, to 12 months plus one day in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. This, after she pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Chief U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall also ordered Williams to pay $61,600 in restitution, the press release said.

“As described in court documents and testimony, in June and July 2020 Williams applied for and received three loans totaling $137,500 under the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program comprised of funds appropriated by the CARES Act,” the press release said.

“Williams has already paid a portion of the fraudulently obtained loans back to the SBA. In pleading guilty to the charges, Williams admitted falsifying the loan applications by inflating the number of employees of the businesses and the amount of money those businesses earned prior to the pandemic-induced economic downturn. She also admitted to spending some of the loan proceeds on purely personal matters.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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