HARRISBURG, Pa. — Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Bruce D. Brandler announced Thursday that his office has entered a partnership with the Office of the Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery to investigate and prosecute those who attempt to use CARES Act funding for fraudulent purposes.
Brandler said his office will work with Special Inspector General Brian D. Miller on the cases after the two offices entered a Memorandum of Understanding.
“This partnership is part of our on-going efforts to investigate and prosecute the fraudsters who have stolen millions of dollars from government backed relief programs during the pandemic," Brandler said in a press release. "This is a high-priority area for our office and we look forward to working with SIGPR to hold accountable anyone who illegally profited at the expense of the American taxpayer.”
“This partnership is an important step in protecting taxpayer money," said Miller. "We will work together to hold accountable and bring to justice those who steal, or misuse, money meant to support the Nation’s economic health and recovery.”
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 created SIGPR to investigate the spending of government funds meant to provide economic relief to people and businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The MOU will allow the U.S. Attorney’s Office and SIGPR to enhance their cooperative efforts in investigating and prosecuting matters involving loans, loan guarantees and other investments made by the Secretary of the Treasury under the CARES Act, Brandler said.
The MOU outlines four objectives:
- to provide a coordinated response to CARES Act funding fraud, with an emphasis on organized criminal activity, as well as criminal and civil fraud affecting federal money, vulnerable victims, and fraud recidivists
- to speed up legal process, case intake, and prosecution of CARES Act-related fraud
- to link and associate isolated CARES Act-related complaints with larger schemes and related, unlawful activity
- to deter future CARES Act funding fraud by increasing awareness of successful criminal prosecutions and civil enforcement actions against individuals and companies involved in CARES-related financial fraud.
As part of the MOU, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will designate two Assistant United States Attorneys – one from the Criminal Division and one from the Civil Division – to serve as liaisons for the partnership between SIGPR and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
These AUSAs will be direct points of contact for case-related inquiries from SIGPR.
The MOU also calls for the U.S. Attorney’s Office 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.