SAVANNAH, GA: Five people are facing bank and wire fraud charges for allegedly using false information to obtain thousands of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds.
The charges, via indictments or information, accuse the defendants of applying for funding under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) using false financial information, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The charges carry legal penalties if convicted of up to 30 years in prison, as well as fines of up to $250,000 and a period of supervised release after the end of any prison sentence.
There is no parole in the federal system.
“CARES Act funding has provided a valuable safety net for small businesses that have struggled financially during the worst of the global pandemic,” U.S. Attorney Estes said. “Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to identify and hold accountable those who attempt to exploit these public assistance programs for their own personal gain.”
Those charged in the Southern District include:
- Brandon Lamar Williams, aka “NH Skilo,” 30, of Savannah, charged in a second superseded federal indictment with two counts of wire fraud related to fraudulent applications for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Williams is also charged with seven other drug and firearms counts that carry penalties of up to life in prison.
- Cameron Mills, 30, of Hephzibah, Georgia, charged with bank fraud; Misrepresentation on a loan application; and Wire Fraud, linked to apps that helped him get a PPP loan.
- Jennai Mance34, of Fort Stewart, Georgia, was charged and pleaded guilty to Wire Fraud, related to a PPP claim.
- Matthew Patches24, of Hudson, Fla., pleaded guilty to an information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, related to two April 2021 PPP loan applications.
- Willie Craft28, of Round Rock, Texas, charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, related to a PPP application and an economic disaster loan application.
As alleged in the charges, the fraudulent loan applications in these cases combined to cause the lenders to pay the defendants more than $130,000.
Indictments and criminal informations only contain charges; the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The cases are being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, Office of Inspector General of Small Business Administration, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Savannah Police Department, and prosecuted for the United States by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.
Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or through the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.