Pennsylvania Man Faces 42-Month Jail Term for Covid-Relief Fraud, Credit Card Scams & Identity Theft

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SCRANTON, PA — The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Reynard Lewis, age 30, formerly of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, was sentenced this past week by United States District Judge Robert D. Mariani to 42 months of imprisonment, for wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft offenses.

According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, Lewis and his coconspirators used stolen identities to create forged identification documents and credit and debit cards.  The conspirators used those forged items and stolen identities to open bank accounts, apply for lines of credit, and obtain retail merchandise.  The conspirators also used the stolen identities to apply for multiple COVID-19 pandemic relief loans issued under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including by submitting false federal tax documentation.  The conspirators allegedly received over $100,000 in pandemic stimulus funds.

The PPP is designed to help small businesses facing financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Funded by the March 2020 CARES Act, PPP funds are offered in forgivable loans, provided that certain criteria are met, including use of the funds for employee payroll, mortgage interest, lease, and utilities expenses.

Lewis previously was charged in a criminal complaint and arrested on September 16, 2022.  He has remained in detention since his arrest.  Lewis’s alleged coconspirator, Robert Brownstein, age 51, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was previously charged in a criminal information with wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, and the Pottsville Bureau of Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip J. Caraballo is prosecuting the case.

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