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).
Florida Pastor and Son Arrested for Alleged $8 Million Covid Relief Fund Schemehttps://t.co/i7bmH9OXbc— Law & Crime (@lawcrimenews) December 14, 2022
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.