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Charleston man pleads guilty to pandemic-related fraud

Christina Lee Knauss //March 10, 2023//

Charleston man pleads guilty to pandemic-related fraud

Christina Lee Knauss //March 10, 2023//

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A Charleston man has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Small Business Administration.

Antonio Brown-Sanders, 26, of Charleston, pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding the SBA to receive an Emergency Injury Disaster Loan under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina.

The evidence presented at the guilty plea hearing established that Brown-Sanders applied to the SBA to receive an EIDL loan that fraudulently represented he owned a lawn care business. The application submitted by Brown-Sanders also falsely represented the number of employees and gross revenues for the fraudulent lawn care business, according to the release. The total amount lent to Brown-Sanders by the SBA was $81,600.

Brown-Sanders is subject to a maximum sentence of twenty years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel accepted the guilty plea and will sentence Brown-Sanders after receiving and reviewing a sentencing report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline via the NCDF Web Complaint Form

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Small Business Administration, Office of the Inspector General.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy F. Bower prosecuted the case.