West Virginia Prisoner Allegedly Received $50,000 In COVID Relief Funding While Behind Bars

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James Lynch Investigative Reporter
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A West Virginia man allegedly received COVID-19 relief money while he was in federal prison by claiming he was a food truck operator on his loan application.

Federal prosecutors charged Anton Matthews, 39, with wire fraud after he received a nearly $50,000 loan from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act relief program, the Justice Department (DOJ) announced Monday. (RELATED: Inspector General Says $191 Billion Of Covid Unemployment Benefits Potentially Fraudulent)

Matthews said on a loan application his 2020 gross income was $103,000 from a food trucking business, even though he had been in federal prison until October 2020. He was incarcerated from November 2016 to October 2020 before moving to home confinement until March 2021.

“We will continue to aggressively pursue criminals who stole relief money that was meant to help Americans,” U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld said, according to the DOJ press release. “Mr. Matthews’ conduct was particularly brazen, but he will be held to account thanks to the excellent work of the FBI.”

Matthews was also indicted for drug trafficking Monday after allegedly working with other parties to distribute cocaine both inside and outside the Third Alarm Bar bar in West Virginia’s Ohio County. He faces four cocaine distribution charges, according to the press release.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys of the Northern District of West Virginia will be prosecuting Matthews. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted the fraud investigation, and the Ohio Valley Drug Task Force carried out the drug investigation.