Center Point Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits Fraud
A man who received almost $17,000 in fraudulently obtained CARES Act unemployment funds was sentenced on September 20, 2021, to five months in federal prison. Larry Neal Wells, age 63, from Center Point, Iowa, received the prison term after an April 5, 2021 guilty plea to one count of wire fraud.
Information from sentencing and a plea agreement showed that Wells received $16,978 in unemployment funds to which he was not entitled from the states of Maine and New York. Wells withdrew the funds in cash, kept some of the funds for himself, and mailed the rest to other individuals.
Wells was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams. Wells was sentenced to 5 months’ imprisonment. He was ordered to make $7,728 in restitution to the New York State Department of Labor and $9,250 in restitution to the Maine Department of Labor. He must also serve a five-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system. Wells was released on the bond previously set and is to surrender to the United States Marshal on October 4, 2021.
This prosecution is an example of the Department of Justice’s strong commitment to combating fraud and criminal activity related to COVID-19. Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kyndra Lundquist and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Labor Office of Inspector General. Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl. The case file number is 20-CR-113.