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Spokane man sentenced for COVID-19 relief fraud

Staff Report | August 16, 2022 1:47 PM

SPOKANE — A Spokane man has been sentenced to five years probation for COVID-19 relief fraud, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern Washington.

Roshon Edward Thomas, 42, was sentenced in federal court for fraudulently obtaining COVID-19 relief funding for small businesses, according to the release. This is the first sentence in a case brought by the Eastern Washington COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force since its creation earlier this year, the release said.

In March 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The CARES Act provided a number of programs through which eligible small businesses could request and obtain relief funding to mitigate the economic impacts of the pandemic, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. The EIDL program provided low-interest loans that could be deferred until the conclusion of the pandemic to provide “bridge” funding for small businesses to maintain their operations during shutdowns and other economic circumstances caused by the pandemic.

According to court documents and information disclosed during court proceedings, Thomas fraudulently obtained at least $54,900 in COVID-19 relief funding through two EIDL loans he obtained in July and August 2020 for a purported tattoo parlor and a clothing design company. In May, Thomas pleaded guilty to submitting false and fraudulent claims to the United States and admitted to using false and fraudulent information to obtain EIDL funding for both companies. As part of the sentence, Thomas will be supervised by the Court during the probation period and, among other conditions, will be required to maintain employment and to make full restitution of the funds that he fraudulently obtained, according to the release.

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