U.S. Law Enforcement Disrupts Networks Used to Transfer Fraud Proceeds, Taking Over 4,000 Actions in Fifth Campaign
CLEVELAND – A federal grand jury has returned a thirteen-count indictment charging Robert Nathaniel Andre Thomas III, 24, and Montareo Banks, 24, both of Euclid, Ohio, with engaging in a conspiracy to steal approximately $44,000 in pandemic unemployment insurance benefits from the federal government and the States of Ohio, Arizona, California, and New Jersey.
Thomas and Banks are charged in the indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, two counts of mail fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and five counts of aggravated identity theft.
According to the indictment, from May through November 2020, the defendants and their co-conspirators are accused of engaging in a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain COVID-19 pandemic unemployment insurance benefits. These benefits were provided via the Department of Labor (DOL) to State Workforce Agencies under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act of 2020.
The indictment alleges that as part of their scheme, the defendants and their co-conspirators knowingly made false statements and omissions regarding employment history, residency, and other information on applications for pandemic unemployment insurance benefits to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), California Employment Development Department (EDD), and the New Jersey Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).
Court documents state that as a result of the scheme, the defendants and their co-conspirators received approximately $40,000 in pandemic unemployment insurance benefits to which they were not entitled.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after a review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal records, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum; in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
This case was investigated by the Cleveland FBI and the Department of Labor. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryson N. Gillard.