Pastor and Son Arrested for Stealing Millions From Relief Fund

A Florida preacher and his son were detained by federal authorities on fraud accusations involving millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief payments. The two allegedly requested federal funding to pay hundreds of fictitious employees. In actuality, the funds were used to purchase a mansion.

Pastor Evan Edwards and his son Joshua Edwards were detained on December 14 in Orlando, Florida, on suspicion of attempting to cheat the government of more than $8 million using the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 

Former President Donald Trump created the PPP to protect American employment during the outbreak, but prosecutors said Edwards and his son saw it as a way to quickly increase their wealth.

In 2019, Edwards relocated to Florida, where he led a missionary group in Turkey. When COVID struck, he submitted a PPP claim on behalf of the company, claiming it had 486 employees and $2.7 million in payroll costs per month. 

The actual staff roster, according to the prosecution, is much smaller or completely absent. Edwards nonetheless tried to use a government loan as collateral for a $3.7 million house purchase after applying for one.

In December 2020, a civil lawsuit was brought against Edwards and his son, and the Justice Department (DOJ) was able to recoup $8.4 million in federal loans from them in April. Finally, they will be brought to court for their attempt to defraud American taxpayers.




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