Pair face up to 15 years after pleading to identity theft for impact payments
Two individuals from Gilmer, Texas have pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit identity theft in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei.
Emilee Fenton, 24, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully transfer, possess, and use a means of identification today before U.S. Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell. Dalton Brewer, also 24, pleaded guilty to the same charge on March 4, 2021.
“Economic Impact Payments were designed to reach the most needy, not to line the pockets of criminals. The Eastern District of Texas is committed to fighting fraud and criminal activity related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “Today’s plea is just another example of how our office and our law enforcement partners are holding accountable the wrongdoers who exploit this crisis.”
Fenton and Brewer were indicted by a federal grand jury on August 19, 2020 and charged with conspiracy to unlawfully transfer, possess, and use a means of identification. Fenton was also charged with theft of government money and aggravated identity theft.
According to the indictment, from at least November 2019 through June 2020, Brewer and Fenton conspired to possess and use the means of identification of other persons, including names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth, in connection with the theft of government money, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, theft of mail, and fraudulent use or possession of identifying information. Fenton was also charged with theft of government money and aggravated identity theft for her role in obtaining two Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) using the means of identification of other persons.
The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act authorized over $2 trillion in relief programs, including approximately $560 billion for benefits to individuals. An estimated $300 billion of that total was allocated for EIPs.
At sentencing, Brewer and Fenton each face up to 15 years in federal prison.
This case is being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld.