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Press Release

Columbia Man Pleads Guilty to COVID Benefits Fraud

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

COLUMBIA, S.C. —Michael Eugene Bowers, 51, of Columbia, has pleaded guilty to fraud related to COVID benefits.

Evidence obtained in the investigation revealed that Bowers electronically submitted an Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) application through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and received $480,900 on Dec. 20, 2021. That money was wired into a bank account that he had control of. Bowers then used the funds for personal expenses, such as purchasing a Suzuki motorcycle and paying off his BMW automobile.

Bowers faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. He also faces a fine of up to $250,000, restitution, and three of supervision to follow the term of imprisonment.  United States Senior District Judge Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. accepted the guilty plea and will sentence Bowers after receiving and reviewing a sentencing report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

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 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 and

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by using the Department of Justice's National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF)’s Web Complaint Form.

This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Winston Holliday and Scott Matthews are prosecuting the case.



MEDIA CONTACT:   Veronica Hill, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Attorney’s Office,, (803) 929-3000

Updated June 5, 2024