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Press Release

Convicted Felon Sentenced for Pandemic Fraud and Firearm Offenses

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

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A man who formerly resided in Hampton was sentenced today to 2 years in prison for his role in a fraud conspiracy as well as illegally possessing firearms as a convicted felon.

According to court documents, from about May 2020 through September 2021, Jovaughn E. Turner, 21, joined others to submit fraudulent claims for pandemic-related benefits and counterfeit checks stolen from the mail. Turner and his coconspirators ran the fraud operation from an apartment they rented in Hampton. The apartment – filled with proceeds of the fraud – was burglarized multiple times by a local gang. On September 26, 2021, a would-be robber approached Turner outside the apartment and brandished a firearm. Turner shot and killed the man in self-defense. 

Following the shooting, police executed a search warrant at Turner’s apartment and located $28,500 in cash, a laptop computer, a special printer for counterfeiting checks, a money-counting machine, check stock paper, and a magnetic reader/writer/encoder for making credit and debit cards. Police also located approximately 20 counterfeit and stolen checks drawn against the bank accounts of businesses across the country.

In addition to check fraud, the defendant and his coconspirators submitted fraudulent claims for pandemic-related unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Turner claimed to have worked at Wendy’s and Prime Now LLC and falsely represented that he lost his employment because of the pandemic. In fact, he only worked briefly for these employers and voluntarily abandoned both jobs.

In addition to illegally possessing a firearm on September 26, 2021, when he shot and killed the would-be robber, he was again found in possession of a firearm during a traffic stop in Chesapeake on December 30, 2021. Police recovered a loaded Glock .40 caliber handgun under the driver seat during a search of the vehicle Turner was driving. 

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Damon E. Wood, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Washington Division; and Jimmie Wideman, Chief of Hampton Police, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Roderick C. Young.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mack Coleman prosecuted the case.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:23-cr-10.

Updated October 26, 2023

Disaster Fraud
Firearms Offenses