Bilking government agencies of publicly disbursed entitlements is now a national pastime, and when COVID struck, it only got worse. As Uncle Sam began rolling out one relief program after another, several bad actors moved into place to see how much of that money they could get without doing anything in return. These lawsuits are still being filed as the forensic number-crunchers at the IRS track down the information provided by individual applicants. In this case, briefly reviewing the records resulted in the numbers not adding up, and now one individual is facing charges for $83 million in losses.
The laboratory’s co-owner has been charged with 10 counts of wire fraud and one count of stealing government funds.
How Did the Fraud Work?
This case will be hard to defend. Essentially, the company took millions in federal subsidies, was given the contract to perform COVID tests, and then sent back false negatives without actually running the tests. The ultimate total loss was nearly $100 million, so this defendant has a real problem.
When it comes to fraud, the federal government takes several things into consideration to determine how much time to assign a convicted defendant. One of those factors is the amount of money stolen. While $83 million is not record-breaking, that is a lot of money. Second, the money is related to an emergency disaster relief program, which allows the federal government to add an extra 10 years to the sentence.
Other elements that factor into a fraud prosecution involve the number of moving parts or the complexity of the scheme, the number of individuals involved in the scheme, and the number of victims.
How the federal government treats fraud prosecutions
An individual who is accused of stealing $83 million from the federal government that disbursed the funds as part of a pandemic relief program will be looking at a sentence eclipsing a decade. However, in this case, the company actually contributed to the spread of a deadly pathogen. That means that wrongful death, manslaughter, and reckless endangerment charges against individuals could also be forthcoming. If the allegations are true, then the company acted against efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus while simultaneously taking the government’s money.
So, this is a situation where the government will likely want to nail this defendant to the wall and make a display of it. The allegations are disturbing and damning, potentially similar in scope to terrorism, and they were all done with malicious forethought. 20 years might look like a really good deal in this case.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
David Freidberg represents the interests of Chicago defendants charged with white-collar crimes such as fraud. Call today at (312) 560-7100, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.