Federal grand jury indicts Carbondale man in alleged COVID relief funds scheme – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Federal grand jury indicts Carbondale man in alleged COVID relief funds scheme

TOPEKA, Kan. – A federal grand jury in Topeka returned an indictment Friday against Todd James Lewis, 54, of Carbondale, Kan., on seven counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, and one count of theft of government funds.

Todd James Lewis, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office photo.

The indictment says Lewis engaged in a scheme to defraud the government by fraudulently obtaining funds from Colorado’s unemployment system and a Kansas program that provided rental assistance for landlords and tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alleged in the indictment is that Lewis submitted a fraudulent application and weekly certifications to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment for the purpose of obtaining unemployment insurance benefits paid through the CARES Act and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefits program, which had been authorized in all 50 states. The indictment says Lewis created a CDLE account in April 2020, and submitted 67 weekly claims, with $57,987 total disbursed to Lewis’ bank account. The government alleged Lewis filed the claims knowing he was not entitled to the benefits because he had never been employed in Colorado.

The indictment also alleges Lewis submitted three false claims in October and November 2020 to the Kansas Eviction Protection Program, which was authorized by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly to assist landlords and tenants who had missed rental payments due to the pandemic. The indictment says Lewis filed the claims in the names of three tenants, and received three deposits totaling $12,400 into his bank account in November and December 2020.

Of the seven counts of wire fraud, three were connected to the electronic transfer of funds for the KEPP claims; the other four were for submission of weekly claims to CDLE over a time period of June 22-August 15, 2021.

Count 8 accused Lewis of aggravated identity theft for using the social security number of one of the tenants during and in relation to a felony violation.

The ninth count in the indictment, theft of government funds, alleged Lewis knowingly embezzled or stole money from the KEPP by fraudulently submitting landlord certification forms, and collecting reimbursement payments of more than $1,000 in value.

If convicted of the allegations in the indictment, Lewis could face up to 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count; up to two years for aggravated identity theft; and not more than 10 years for theft of government funds. In addition, all of counts include penalties of up to a $250,000 fine, along with restitution or forfeiture of property.

No current contact information for Lewis was available, and he could not be reached for comment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Kansas confirmed Lewis was from Carbondale. The FBI and the U.S. Department of Labor are investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney is prosecuting the case. The indictment is available here.

Other indictments returned by the grand jury on Sept. 16, 2022:

  • Stryder Dane Keo, 34, was accused of shooting and killing a member of the Kickapoo tribe on the Kickapoo Reservation in July 2022. The federal government has jurisdiction over the offense because the offense occurred within Indian country.
  • Briar Clayton Eugene Adams, 30, of Leavenworth Penitentiary, was indicted on one count of possessing contraband in prison.
  • Chance James .John Hannon, 41, of Las Vegas, Nev., was indicted on one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
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