Schaller Man Charged with COVID-19 Related Mail Fraud
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa
Charged With Receiving Multiple Deposits of CARES Act Unemployment Funds from Arizona and Massachusetts
Alvin Lavon Rex, age 61, from Schaller, Iowa, has been charged with one count of mail fraud. The charge is contained in a criminal complaint unsealed today in United States District Court in Sioux City.
The complaint alleges that, in about May 2020, Rex received approximately $19,000 in deposits in his account at a bank in Storm Lake. The deposits were moneys received from unemployment claims made in Massachusetts and Arizona. The complaint further alleges that Rex then made a series of cash withdrawals from his account and mailed the cash to at least one other person in Maryland.
On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the CARES Act, which provides emergency assistance to individuals, families, and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act includes a provision of temporary benefits for individuals who have exhausted their entitlement to regular unemployment compensation, as well as coverage for individuals who are not eligible for regular unemployment compensation, are self-employed, or have limited recent work history. The Complaint alleges that Rex received unemployment funds in the names of other individuals in Massachusetts and Arizona, which included Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Benefits (FPUC) of an additional $600 per week claimed, pursuant to Section 2104 of the CARES Act.
If convicted, Rex faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.
Rex appeared today in federal court in Sioux City and was released on bond pending further proceedings. As with any criminal case, a charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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 is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Vavricek and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of Labor - Office of Inspector General, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Storm Lake Police Department. The Sac County Sheriff’s Office, the State of Arizona’s UI Benefit Fraud Investigation Unit - Office of Inspector General, the State of Massachusetts’ Program Integrity Unit - Department of Unemployment Assistance, and the State of Ohio’s Benefit Payment Fraud Control Unit - Department of Job and Family Services provided assistance to the investigation.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 20-CR-4062.
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Updated July 30, 2020