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Chesterland man indicted for stealing COVID-19 relief funds

Robert Bearden is accused of devising a scheme to fraudulently obtain loans under the CARES Act.

CLEVELAND — Editor’s Note: The above video is from a previously published, unrelated story

A federal grand jury in Cleveland has indicted a 49-year-old Chesterland man with three counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of government funds totaling $60,000.

According to a press release from the Department of Justice, Robert Bearden allegedly devised a scheme to fraudulently obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act,

Among the methods Bearden is alleged to have used in his scheme was submitting EIDL applications through the SBA’s online application portal that contained false information about existing and non-existing businesses. He is also accused of submitting fraudulent EIDL applications in the name of third parties in return for a kickback of a portion of the funds received and by using the personal identifying information of persons interested in obtaining government pandemic assistance to submit loan applications on their behalf that ultimately went into his accounts.

The indictment identifies three fraudulent EIDL loans for a total of approximately $60,000 that Bearden applied for in July of 2020.  After receiving a fraudulent loan in his own name, Bearden is alleged to have recurited a purported third-party borrower, using their personal information to obtain a $12,300 loan that went directly into Bearden’s account. In another instance, Bearden obtained a $34,800 loan for another third party in exchange for a $6,000 kickback. 

This investigation was conducted by the FBI and the IRS – Criminal Investigations.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elliot Morrison and Brian M. McDonough.

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