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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Tennessee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 13, 2022

Four Defendants Sentenced for COVID-19 Relief Fraud

Memphis, TN – Four defendants have been sentenced for conspiracy to defraud the Small Business 
Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. The EIDL program provided grants and 
low-interest loans to small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, among other disasters. 
Between April 2020 and June 2020, the defendants submitted more than 400 fraudulent EIDL 
applications and attempted to get over $7 million in funding.  Kevin G. Ritz, United States 
Attorney, announced the sentences today.

United States Attorney Ritz commented: “These aid programs were meant to lift hardworking citizens 
and small businesses. But these individuals illicitly used the funds for their own benefit. I thank 
our federal law enforcement partners for uncovering and investigating these crimes. We will 
continue to prosecute those who abuse and misuse COVID-19 relief funds.”

“During a global pandemic, the defendants took advantage of aid programs intended to provide 
critical relief for hardworking members of our communities impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak,” said 
Donald “Trey” Eakins, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal 
Investigation (IRS-CI) Memphis Field Office. “We will continue to prioritize COVID-19 fraud 
investigations on those who fraudulently take intended funds for struggling businesses that truly 
needed assistance.”

“Conspiring to fraudulently obtain federal funds that are meant to provide assistance to nation’s 
small businesses is unacceptable,” said SBA Office of Inspector General’s Special Agent in Charge 
Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite. “Our office will  aggressively pursue evidence of wrongdoing and bring 
those responsible to justice. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement 
partners for their dedication and commitment to seeing justice served.”

Sharika L. Carpenter, 43, of Memphis, Tennessee, pled guilty on January 13, 2022, to
one count of conspiracy to defraud the EIDL program, one count of wire fraud, two counts


of theft of government property, and one count of preparing a false tax return. According to 
information presented in court, Carpenter owned a tax-preparation business, Better Days Tax 
Services, in Memphis, Tennessee. She recruited and trained at least five people to work for her 
preparing fraudulent tax returns and fraudulent applications to COVID- 19 relief programs for 
clients. Operating out of that business in 2020, Carpenter and her co-conspirators obtained more 
than $745,000 in fraudulent EIDL funds.  Carpenter charged her clients up to 50 percent of the 
fraudulent EIDL proceeds, and she also submitted fraudulent EIDL applications in her own name. She 
paid her employees a flat fee for each fraudulent EIDL application that received funding. In 
addition to the EIDL fraud, Carpenter prepared false income tax returns for clients, resulting in 
fraudulent tax refunds  and  lost  tax  revenue.   Carpenter also  defrauded the  Small  Business 
Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by obtaining a fraudulent PPP loan of 
$3,548.  And Carpenter defrauded the Department of Labor’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program 
by claiming more than $33,000 in unemployment- assistance payments to which she was not entitled.

On October 5, 2022, United States District Judge Thomas L. Parker sentenced Carpenter to a total of 
four years in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Carpenter may 
not own or operate a tax preparation business or engage in tax preparation services during her 
supervised release. Carpenter also was ordered to pay restitution of
$38,756 and a fine of $20,000. There is no parole in the federal system.

Co-defendant Kevin Maclin, 45, of Memphis, Tennessee, pled guilty on January 18, 2022, to one count 
of conspiracy to defraud the EIDL program for his role in the fraud scheme. Maclin recruited 
additional clients to Better Days Tax Services, where Carpenter and her employees submitted 
fraudulent EIDL applications on the recruits’ behalf. Maclin received a percentage of those 
clients’ EIDL funds.  Carpenter also prepared fraudulent EIDL applications for Maclin, for which 
Maclin received $31,000 in his own name. On May 16, 2022, United States District Judge Thomas L. 
Parker sentenced Maclin to 18 months in federal prison, to be followed by two years of supervised 
release. Maclin also was ordered to pay restitution of $31,000 and a fine of $10,000.

Co-defendants Brandy D. Scaife, 44, and Stephanie Johnson, 43, both of Memphis, Tennessee, each 
pled guilty on January 12, 2022, to one count of conspiracy to defraud the EIDL program for their 
roles in the fraud scheme. Scaife and Johnson both worked for Carpenter preparing fraudulent EIDL 
applications for Better Days Tax Services clients. Carpenter paid Scaife and Johnson a flat fee for 
each fraudulent application that received funding. Scaife also obtained a fraudulent EIDL loan in 
her own name. On April 29, 2022, United States District Judge Thomas L. Parker sentenced Scaife to 
time served, to be followed by one year of supervised release, and ordered her to pay restitution 
of $17,900. On May 18, 2022, United States District Judge Thomas L. Parker sentenced Johnson to two 
years of federal probation.

This  case was investigated by  IRS-CI, the  Treasury Inspector General for  Tax Administration, 
the SBA Office of Inspector General, and the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General. 
Assistant United States Attorney Murre Foster prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

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:
https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
 

For more information, please contact Public Information Officer Cherri Green at (901) 544-4231 or cherri.green@usdoj.gov. Follow @WDTNNews on Twitter for office news and updates.

Updated October 13, 2022