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Press Release

Charleston Man Sentenced to One Year in Federal Prison for Fraud Relating to Coronavirus Funds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA — Antonio Brown-Sanders, 26, of Charleston, was sentenced to one year and a day in federal prison after pleading guilty to fraudulently applying for an Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The CARES Act is a federal law enacted in March 2020 designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the Coronavirus. Two primary sources of relief provided by the CARES Act were the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. PPP loans consisted of more than $640 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities. The EIDL program provided low-interest loans to business owners to pay for items like accounts payable and other bills that could not be paid as a result of COVID-19.

Evidence presented to the court showed that that Brown-Sanders applied to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to receive an EIDL loan that fraudulently represented he owned a lawn care business.  The application submitted by Brown-Sanders also falsely represented the number of employees and gross income. Brown-Sanders received $81,600 from the SBA.

“The defendant in this case stole from American taxpayers and prevented pandemic-relief funds from reaching those who needed them most,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs.  “The District of South Carolina is committed to pursuing and investigating those who defraud government programs.  We encourage any member of the public with information about attempted fraud involving COVID-19 to report it to the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline.”

“The Secret Service is diligent in our investigation and pursuit of those who engage in fraudulent criminal activity. We appreciate the commitment from our law enforcement partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Office of Inspector General - Small Business Administration to see that justice is served,” said Resident Agent in Charge Ben Stafford of the Secret Service’s Charleston Resident Office. “This sentencing reflects the seriousness with which the government handles fraudulent crimes and should act as a warning to those who aspire to exploit government relief programs that are put in place to help those in need.”

“Those that use fraudulent documents to gain access to SBA programs funds will be met with justice,” said SBA OIG’s Eastern Region Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite. “I want to thank the U.S. Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners for their dedication and pursuit of justice.”

United States District Judge Richard Gergel sentenced Brown-Sanders to 12 months and 1 day in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision.  There is no parole in the federal system. The court also ordered him to pay the restitution still due in the amount of $65,246.48.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit

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 (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at:

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Office of Inspector General – Small Business Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Amy F. Bower prosecuted the case.


CONTACT PERSON:   Brook Andrews, First Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office,, (803) 929-3000.

Updated July 13, 2023

Financial Fraud