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Press Release

Former Department of Corrections Officer Pleads Guilty in COVID-19 Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. – Tana Eguasa Hill, 43, pled guilty pursuant to a criminal information to theft of government funds for fraudulently submitting North Carolina Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (NC HOPE) loan applications for emergency rental assistance.  As part of her fraud scheme, the defendant, a correctional officer with the North Carolina Department of Corrections (NCDOC), submitted fictitious tenant lease agreements for multiple properties in Hertford County as part of her NC HOPE loan applications.  She faces up to 10 years in prison.

On March 27, 2020, Congress enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who were suffering the economic effects caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of $5 billion in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs as flexible federal funding to states and localities earmarked to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers the CDBG program as a source of flexible federal funding for economic and community development, as well as to direct long-term recovery funding to states and localities in response to disasters and emergencies.

The State of North Carolina’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR), a division of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, utilized federal funds made available in the CARES Act to assist North Carolina renters stay in their homes during COVID-19 by preventing evictions and the loss of utility services.  The NC HOPE program utilized an initial $51.5 million allocation of CDBG funds from the CARES Act to provide housing and utility assistance.  The State of North Carolina also received CRF funds from the CARES Act, of which $66 million was allocated to pay administrative costs associated with the NC HOPE program.

In November 2023, Ms. Hills’ husband, Sean Dillard (2:23-CR-00011), was sentenced for the same crime.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by United States Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr.  accepted the plea.  Sentencing will occur before United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan later this year.  The FBI is leading the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Ontjes is prosecuting the case.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for 2:24-CR-00003-FL.

Updated June 12, 2024

Disaster Fraud