Jason Lary, the former Mayor of the City of Stonecrest, was sentenced to spend close to five years in federal prison for his scheme that stole thousands of COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government.
According to a release from the Department of Justice, the former government official took more than $100,000 from the citizens of his city.
Law enforcement officials detailed that Lary used the funds to pay for numerous things: a mortgage on a lakefront house, his son’s college tuition, and his federal and state taxes.
Over the course of his scheme, he misled numerous individuals, including leaders of two different churches, on his intentions with the funds.
Originally, he was charged with wire fraud, conspiracy, and federal program theft charges.
“Lary betrayed the trust placed in him by the citizens of Stonecrest by stealing the very funds meant to help his constituents weather the COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “The people of Stonecrest deserved better, and corrupt officials can expect severe consequences for using their offices to commit crimes.”
In addition to the time in prison, Lary will be mandated to undergo three years of supervised release and pay approximately $120,000 in restitution.
“It is extremely disheartening when an elected official, someone sworn to protect the community they serve, violates that oath by stealing relief funds intended to aid their community,” added Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta Keri Farley. “This sentencing holds Lary accountable for abusing his position of trust and blatant disrespect for the law.”
The arrest and conviction of Lary underscores a major problem with the coronavirus relief: criminals have stolen roughly $100 billion. Federal law enforcement officials have only been able to recover a small fraction of the amount.
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