U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas has entered into an agreement with the Office of the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery. In a news release issued Monday, United States Attorney Stephen J. Cox announced the partnership with Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery Brian D. Miller for the claims process.
In response to the widespread economic harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security ("CARES") Act, which included over $2 trillion in emergency financial assistance designed to provide immediate help for American businesses and individuals.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a devastating toll on American lives across the country, and the economic fallout is similarly widespread," Cox said in a written statement. "Congress has provided vital financial relief to the public, and many people and companies are staying afloat thanks to those valuable resources, he added."That fraudsters have sought to steal these taxpayer funds is unfortunately a reality that we have seen firsthand in the Eastern District. That’s why we are committed to detecting, investigating, and prosecuting those wrongdoers who exploit the pandemic for profit, and we are eager to partner with Special Inspector General Miller in this fight against fraud."
The purpose and mission of the agreement announced is to develop a cooperative effort to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing involving the making, purchase, management, and sale of loans, loan guarantees, and other investments by the Secretary of the Treasury under Division A of the CARES Act, and the management by the Secretary of any program established under Division A of the CARES Act. This partnership will make efficient use of limited resources and help ensure coordination with regulators and law enforcement so that just results can be achieved, while at the same time taking care not to stymie legitimate businesses acting in good faith to access the important financial resources that Congress made available through the CARES Act.
"I look forward to working with U.S. Attorney Stephen Cox and his team in the Eastern District of Texas to identify fraud, waste and abuse of the money provided under the CARES Act," said Brian D. Miller, Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery. "We will bring to justice those who would steal CARES Act money, and recover money for the taxpayers. Taxpayers should expect nothing less."
Two Assistant U.S. Attorneys – one from EDTX’s Criminal Division and one from EDTX’s Civil Division – will serve as liaisons to the EDTX-SIGPR partnership. These AUSAs will be direct points of contact for case-related inquiries from SIGPR. Additionally, a criminal paralegal will be designated to assist with SIGPR-referred investigations and prosecutions. EDTX will also provide forensic audit support for civil enforcement matters.
The agreement also calls for EDTX to create a streamlined, accelerated process for SIGPR investigations to obtain needed preliminary legal process, including grand jury subpoenas and court orders, subpoenas, and civil investigative demands.