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Press Release

Charlotte Man Pleads Guilty To COVID-19 Fraud, Drug Distribution And Firearms Offense

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina
Defendant’s Co-Conspirator Pleaded Guilty to Wire Fraud in July 2022


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Donte O’Neill Clements, 33, of Charlotte, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler on August 19, 2022, and pleaded guilty to participating in a COVID-19 fraud scheme, drug distribution, and illegal gun possession, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Clements’s co-conspirator, Kaila Leaann Shanteau-Jackson, 30, also of Charlotte, pleaded guilty to wire fraud in July 2022 for her role in the scheme.

Jason Byrnes, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Charlotte Field Office, and Chief Johnny Jennings of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

According to filed plea documents and statements made in court, from June 2020 to September 2021, Clements engaged in a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Labor and the State of Arizona by fraudulently receiving and cashing COVID-19 unemployment insurance (UI) payments that Jackson diverted to Clements. During the relevant time frame, Jackson was employed as a vendor-contractor for a financial institution that serviced the UI benefit program in Arizona through the mailing of pre-paid debit cards to qualified recipients. Jackson held the position of Pre-Paid Claims Initiation Agent with the financial institution and, as part of her employment, Jackson had access to the financial institution’s Pre-Paid Administration System (PAS).

According to court documents, Jackson used her employment credentials to divert and re-route UI benefits payments intended for 138 victims to Clements, herself, and others. To effectuate the scheme, Jackson changed in the PAS database the rightful recipients’ address information to addresses in Charlotte to which Clements and others had access. Once Clements and others received the re-routed pre-paid debit cards, they either withdrew the benefits in cash from ATMs or conducted retail purchases with the stolen funds. During the scheme, Jackson diverted approximately $993,000 in UI benefits to her co-conspirators, of which Clements obtained over $800,000 of the stolen funds.

In addition to pleading guilty to wire fraud for the COVID-19 fraud scheme, Clements pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

A sentencing date for Clements has not been set. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum term of 30 years in prison, and a $1 million fine. The charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base carries a prison term of up to 20 years and a $1 million fine. The statutory maximum prison term for felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney King thanked the U.S. Secret Service and CMPD for their investigation of the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Warren of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte is in charge of the prosecution.  

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: Members of the public in the Western District of North Carolina can also call 704-344-6222 to reach their local Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator.




Updated August 23, 2022

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses