Friday, January 5, 2024

Man Who Stole COVID Relief Money Asks for Reduced Sentence; Brockton Man Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud Related to COVID-19 Relief Fund Scam, and other C-Virus related stories

Man who stole COVID relief money asks for reduced sentence:
A Columbus man who used stolen COVID relief funds to buy a million-dollar Starkville house, complete with an air-conditioned tree house for kids, has asked a federal judge to reduce his sentence by a third.
Christopher Paul Lick, 48, pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud last year, admitting he defrauded the government of more than $6 million in pandemic relief funds.
Senior U.S. District Court Judge Glen Davidson sentenced Lick to serve six-and-a-half years (78 months) in federal prison and to repay $6 million. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine.
Under new sentencing guidelines, Lick argues that his sentence could have been more than two years shorter and asks Judge Davidson to reduce his sentence. The new sentencing guidelines went in effect in November and will become retroactive in February 2024.
According to Lick, the new sentencing guideline for wire fraud by someone with no criminal history is a range of 51-63 months, compared to the old guideline of 63-78 months.
“Since the petitioner does not have a prior criminal history, petitioner believes he qualifies for a two-point reduction,” Lick says in the motion filed pro se (without an attorney) in federal court last week. “The petitioner humbly requests a reduction of 27 months.”
The motion claims Lick has been “working diligently to make amends” and wants to continue his work “helping to provide job training for Mississippians with special needs and disabilities.”
Lick is currently incarcerated at a minimum-security federal prison camp located at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. According to the Bureau of Prisons, his current release date is Aug. 29, 2026. With a 27-month reduction, Lick could be released in May 2024. --->READ MORE HERE
Brockton man pleads guilty to wire fraud related to COVID-19 relief fund scam:
Summary: Joao Mendes, a 60-year-old man from Brockton, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud. Mendes submitted false applications and received over $1.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds through fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) loan applications. He misrepresented the number of employees, average monthly payroll costs, and gross revenues of his companies. Mendes also submitted false tax documents to support his loan applications. The US government seized over $1.545 million worth of cryptocurrencies and $206,000 from over 20 accounts subject to criminal seizure. Mendes is scheduled to be sentenced on April 9, 2024. The charge of wire fraud carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, supervised release of up to three years, and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
After a thorough investigation by federal authorities, a shocking case of wire fraud involving COVID-19 relief funds has been uncovered. Joao Mendes, a resident of Brockton, Massachusetts, has pleaded guilty to his role in this elaborate scheme. Mendes managed to obtain a staggering $1.5 million through fraudulent applications for the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.
The scheme involved submitting multiple false loan applications in which Mendes misrepresented key financial information about his various companies. By falsifying the number of employees, average monthly wage costs and gross sales, he managed to raise significant sums of money intended to support struggling companies during the pandemic.
To further support his fraudulent actions, Mendes also submitted falsified tax documents. These records were used as evidence to support his loan applications and exploit the assistance programs for personal gain. His fraudulent activities did not end there; Mendes then transferred the funds received to various bank accounts and even used some of the money to purchase cryptocurrencies. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

Indianapolis man sentenced after stealing thousands in COVID-19 unemployment benefits

Macaques In Thailand Started Using Stone Tools When COVID-19 Stopped Tourists Feeding Them

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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