Georgia Man Indicted on Charges of Wire Fraud Involving the CARES Act
ROCKFORD — A Georgia man was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Rockford on fraud charges involving unemployment compensation claims and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”).
ROBERT CARTER, 27, of Hampton, Ga., was charged with three counts of wire fraud. Arraignment is set for May 14, 2021, at 9:00 a.m., before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa A. Jensen in Rockford.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Irene Lindow, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Region of the Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General; and William Hedrick, Inspector-in-Charge of the Chicago Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott R. Paccagnini.
As alleged in the indictment, from June through August 2020, Carter and others schemed to submit fraudulent unemployment insurance claims to the Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance for claimants whom Carter knew did not work or live in Maryland and were not entitled to benefits. Carter caused the unemployment claims in his name and others to be sent from Homewood, Ill., and DeKalb, Ill., and he opted to have the benefits paid via debit cards and mailed to residences connected to Carter and others involved in the scheme. Funds were then withdrawn from the debit cards at financial institutions and ATMs in Illinois. The fraud scheme resulted in more than $506,000 paid in unemployment benefits, the indictment alleges.
The CARES Act expanded states’ ability to provide unemployment insurance for many workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Act created several benefit programs, including the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.