Upshur County Man Sentenced for Identity Theft in Connection with CARES Act Economic Impact Payments
TYLER, Texas – A Gilmer man has been sentenced to prison for federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei today.
Dalton Brewer, 25, pleaded guilty on March 4, 2021, to conspiracy to unlawfully transfer, possess, and use a means of identification and was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Jeremy D. Kernodle. Brewer was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $11,230.77.
“Not only was Mr. Brewer stealing taxpayer money – money intended to assist those suffering due to the pandemic – but he also stole the identities of innocent persons to effectuate his fraud,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “The CARES Act exists to provide economic stability and public confidence, both of which are undermined by criminal acts of program fraud. Together with its law enforcement partners, EDTX aims to be a vigilant guardian of the public fisc.”
“Understanding the impact financial crimes have on individuals drives the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to work diligently to hold perpetrators accountable,” said Thomas Noyes, Inspector in Charge of the Fort Worth Division. “It’s unfortunate that while communities are recovering from the impact of the pandemic, suspects exploit the situation for their personal enrichment. The message is clear however, that if you engage in these crimes, Postal Inspectors will investigate and hold those responsible. We thank our federal law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas for their efforts.”
“The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration aggressively pursues those who endeavor to defraud programs afforded to the American people under the CARES Act,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “We appreciate the efforts of the Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners in this effort.”
“Economic Impact Payments are intended to assist those in most need who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Brewer and Mrs. Fenton used our tax system to take advantage of innocent people and steal these critical relief funds. IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to work with the US Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement partners to aggressively prosecute those who use this pandemic to commit fraud,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher J. Altemus Jr. of the Dallas Field Office.
According to information presented in court, from at least November 2019 through June 2020, Brewer and Emilee Fenton conspired to possess and use the means of identification of other persons, including names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth, in connection with the theft of government money, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, theft of mail, and fraudulent use or possession of identifying information. Fenton was also charged with theft of government money and aggravated identity theft for her role in obtaining two EIPs using the means of identification of other persons. Fenton pleaded guilty to the same charge on March 23, 2021 and was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison on June 29, 2021.
The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act authorized over $2 trillion in relief programs, including approximately $560 billion for benefits to individuals. An estimated $300 billion of that total was allocated for EIPs. Brewer and Fenton were indicted by a federal grand jury on August 19, 2020.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, and the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld.