RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Six men in central North Carolina face a collective 49 fraud charges and six conspiracy charges, each of which could carry a sentence of 30 years, if convicted.
A federal grand jury returned indictments in September to convict the men, all of whom live in Nash and Halifax Counties. It was not until Thursday that the final defendant was arrested, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
In court, the alleged fraud scheme was presented as an attempt to defraud state-provided COVID-19 relief dollars through the NC HOPE program. The program provides emergency rental assistance designated for households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group of six men indicted filed “at least 44” fraudulent applications for money from the program, resulting in the disbursement of more than $279,000, a release from U.S. Attorney Michael Easley’s office said.
The indictment showed that between June 2021 and February 2022, the six men and others they recruited falsely posed as landlords in the process.
The man with the most prison time at stake is Joe Lewis Jefferson, 50, of Nashville. He was charged with 22 counts of mail fraud and a single count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
Others charged include:
- Danyael Davis Jefferson, age 50, of Nashville; charged with three counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
- Arkino Montrillis Williams, age 51, of Enfield; charged with four counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
- John Lee Bass, age 49, of Rocky Mount; charged with eight counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
- Timothy Kelvin Harvey, age 41, of Roanoke Rapids; charged with eight counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
- Douglas Roberson, age 34, of Rocky Mount; charged with four counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
Considering the NC HOPE program was meant to help struggling North Carolinians stay in their homes during a public health emergency, U.S. Attorney Easley said, “Those who took advantage of our nation’s generosity to defraud this and other relief programs will face criminal prosecution.”
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or by filling out the NCDF Web Complaint Form.