Many remember the COVID-19 pandemic as being a time of intense confusion as the world seemed to stop spinning. Quickly and quietly, people locked themselves away from each other and waited to hear what their governments had to say. With each passing week, the requests turned into restrictions which transition into mandates. Then there was the COVID-19 drug that led to even more mandates. Not to mention the people who lost their jobs. But during all that, the American government shelled out over $4 trillion fighting the coronavirus. And while the Biden administration continues to ask for more funding, investigations are finding cases of fraud that involved IRS employees using COVID-19 funds for luxury trips, personal massages, and even lavish cars.
While millions of Americans struggle to make ends meet as they deal with the aftermath of the pandemic, the Department of Justice announced that five IRS employees have been charged with fraud after they received a staggering $400,000 in government relief funding that was meant for the COVID-19 pandemic. But it wasn’t just normal funds, the employees stole from a budget intended for small businesses. It is not breaking news that many small businesses saw their demise during the pandemic.
The five IRS employees and their charges include:
- Fatina Hewitt – wire fraud
- Roderick DeMarco White II – wire fraud
- Tina Humes – wire fraud
- Courtney Quinshe Westmoreland – three counts of wire fraud
- Brian Saulsberry – two counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.
Looking at the sentencing that comes with each charge, wire fraud has a maximum of 20 years, while money laundering has a maximum of 10 years.
The administration’s Director for COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement, Kevin Chambers, discussed the theft, stating, “This matter demonstrates the brazenness with which bad actors have taken advantage of federal programs meant to help those who suffered most from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Justice Department will continue to work hard to root out PPP and EIDL Program fraud, including that committed by government employees.”
U.S. Attorney Kevin G. Ritz added, “These individuals – acting out of pure greed – abused their positions by taking government funds meant for citizens and businesses who desperately needed it. I thank our law enforcement partners for rooting out this fraud. Our office will not hesitate to pursue and charge individuals who steal from our nation’s taxpayers.”
Online, users weren’t all that surprised as one wrote, “This is just the tip of the iceberg of fraud connected to the billions of dollars thrown together haphazardly to demonstrate the ‘compassion and concern’ our goobermint wanted to project during the fraudemic.”
Another one wondered, “Sounds like they have a lot of time on their hands, maybe if we put the current IRS people to work, we would not need another 87,000.”