Thursday, August 31, 2023

Hundreds of COVID Fraudsters Charged as DOJ Recovers $1.4 Billion, Launches 2 New Strike Forces; Over 3,100 Charged With Pandemic Relief Fraud, Justice Dept. Says, and other C-Virus related stories

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
Hundreds of COVID fraudsters charged as DOJ recovers $1.4 billion, launches 2 new strike forces:
The Justice Department celebrated its pandemic fraud efforts Wednesday, saying it has seized $1.4 billion back from fraudsters.
The department recounted its most recent sweep of cases, saying it netted criminal charges against 371 defendants, and 119 defendants have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial from May to July. The sweep covered $836 million in fraudulent payments.
Among the cases were 25 that the Justice Department said were connected to international criminal syndicates.
Dozens of others were connected to violent crimes, including one case where someone used pandemic money to pay for a murder-for-hire, said Michael C. Galdo, acting director of the Justice Department‘s COVID-19 fraud enforcement effort.
Department officials said the announcement was intended to let fraudsters know that despite three years since the start of the pandemic, investigators haven’t given up on nailing them.
“The COVID-19 public health emergency may have ended, but the Justice Department‘s work to identify and prosecute those who stole pandemic relief funds is far from over,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
Among the cases in the new sweep were charges against members of the Wild 100s street gang in Milwaukee. Two gang associates are accused of a murder-for-hire hit. --->READ MORE HERE
Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times
Over 3,100 Charged With Pandemic Relief Fraud, Justice Dept. Says:
The department outlined several cases, including one in which the defendants were accused of using fraudulently obtained funds to solicit a murder.
For more than two years, Leon Haynes, a New Jersey tax preparer, told some of his clients that the federal government was giving out “free money” in the form of pandemic relief to people who owned businesses. According to federal prosecutors, Mr. Haynes filed more than 1,000 false tax forms, fraudulently claiming more than $124 million in Covid-19 employment tax credits for businesses that he and others owned.
Mr. Haynes was arrested at the end of July.
The complaint is one of several Covid-19 fraud cases detailed on Wednesday by the Justice Department, which has been cracking down on businesses and individuals who inappropriately pocketed federal relief aid.
As of this week, the federal government has charged 3,195 defendants for offenses related to pandemic fraud and seized more than $1.4 billion in relief funds, according to data released by the department.
That included the results of a three-month “sweep” to combat Covid-19 fraud, which ended in July and involved more than 50 U.S. attorney’s offices and dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
The sweep resulted in criminal charges against 371 defendants, with 119 convicted or pleading guilty. The Justice Department claimed that 63 defendants had connections to violent crime and that 25 had purported connections to transnational crime networks.
“This latest action,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, “should send a clear message: The Covid-19 public health emergency may have ended, but the Justice Department’s work to identify and prosecute those who stole pandemic relief funds is far from over.” --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

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