Georgia pastor indicted for CARES Act fraud

State/Regional

FILE – In this April 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump’s name is seen on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, in San Antonio. There were just a few hundred coronavirus cases when Congress first started focusing on emergency spending in early March. By the end of that month, as Congress passed the massive $2.2 trillion Cares Act, cases skyrocketed above 100,000 and deaths climbed past 2,000. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (WRBL) — One Georgia man has identified as pastor, mortician, restauranteur, and tax preparer.

Now, he was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia on COVID-19 recovery assistance fraud.

According to the Acting U.S. Attorney David Estes, 45-year-old Mack Devon Knight of Kingsland, Georgia is charged in a five-count indictment accusing Knight of fraudulently giving falsified information to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in connection with applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs).

If convicted, Knight will face up to 30 years in prison and receive financial penalties with supervised release.

Between February and March 2021, knight applied to EIDLs from two businesses including Knight’s Tax Services and Daddy Earl’s Kitchen.

According to court documents, the applications falsely claimed the businesses had hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Acting U.S. Attorney Estes said in a prepared statement, “Funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Security (CARES) Act was provided to help small businesses survive pandemic-related losses,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “In coordination with our law enforcement partners, we will hold accountable those unscrupulous actors who attempt to swindle these funds for their own enrichment.” 

During the application process, Knight curated and provided a fake bank document to the SBA.

Knight received $149,900 from the SBA for his business; Knight’s Tax Services. He also allegedly used part of the funds to buy a Mercedes-Benz sedan.

To report a COVID-19-related fraud scheme or suspicious activity, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling the NCDF Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. Knight is being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan A. Porter and Patrick J. Schwedler.

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