Spokane man indicted on fraud charges for stealing COVID relief funds

SPOKANE, Wash – A grand jury in Spokane has indicted a local man for wire fraud over the theft of federal COVID relief funds.

According to the indictment, Roshon Edward Thomas received a $32,400 federal loan through the Small Business Association’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Federal prosecutors say he fraudulently applied for the loan in the name of a fictitious business.

The indictment says Thomas used a fake business called I’s Design and used his personal address on the application.

An investigation revealed I’s Design never existed and was not eligible for EIDL funding.

If convicted of the wire fraud charges, he faces up to 20 years in prison on each count.

In conjunction with the announcement, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington Vanessa Waldref announced the creation of a COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force.

Made up of several federal agencies, the goal is to identify fraud against COVID-19 relief programs in eastern Washington.

“We created the COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force because it is critical to the strength and safety of our community in Eastern Washington that we all work together to combat pandemic-related fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref.  “COVID-19 relief programs, which were essential to lifting our economy and supporting our families, quickly ran out of money due to the number of people and businesses that requested funding.  It is not fair that some deserving small businesses could not obtain funding to keep their businesses in operation during the COVID-19 pandemic, when others abused the programs.  The Strike Force is one way to ensure that limited resources are provided to deserving local businesses that provide vital services for our communities.  I greatly appreciate the hard work and esprit de corps of so many talented agents and agencies that are contributing to our collective efforts.”