Upshur County duo sentenced for identity theft in connection with CARES act economic impact payments

Dalton Brewer and Emilee Fenton conspired to possess and use the means of identification of other persons, including names, social security numbers, and dates of birth, in connection with the theft of government money, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, theft of mail, and fraudulent use or possession of identifying information.  

Two Gilmer residents have been sentenced to federal prison for federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas.

Dalton Brewer, 25, pleaded guilty March 4, to conspiracy to unlawfully transfer, possess and use a means of identification. He was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Jeremy D. Kernodle. Brewer was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $11,230.77.

“Not only was Mr. Brewer stealing taxpayer money – money intended to assist those suffering due to the pandemic – but he also stole the identities of innocent persons to effectuate his fraud,” Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei said.

“The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act exists to provide economic stability and public confidence, both of which are undermined by criminal acts of program fraud. Together with its law enforcement partners, EDTX aims to be a vigilant guardian of the public fisc.”

According to information presented in court, from at least November 2019 through June 2020, Brewer and Emilee Fenton conspired to possess and use the means of identification of other persons, including names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth, in connection with the theft of government money, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, theft of mail and fraudulent use or possession of identifying information.

Fenton was also charged with theft of government money and aggravated identity theft for her role in obtaining two EIPs using the means of identification of other persons. Fenton pleaded guilty to the same charge on March 23 and was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison June 29.

“Understanding the impact financial crimes have on individuals drives the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to work diligently to hold perpetrators accountable,” said Thomas Noyes, Inspector in Charge of the Fort Worth Division.

“It’s unfortunate that while communities are recovering from the impact of the pandemic, suspects exploit the situation for their personal enrichment. The message is clear however, that if you engage in these crimes, Postal Inspectors will investigate and hold those responsible. We thank our federal law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Texas for their efforts.”

The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act authorized over $2 trillion in relief programs, including approximately $560 billion for benefits to individuals. An estimated $300 billion of that total was allocated for EIPs.

Brewer and Fenton were indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 19, 2020.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, and the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld.

 
 

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I cover COVID-19 and health in the East Texas area for Tyler Morning Telegraph, the Longview News-Journal and Tyler Paper Español. Stephen F. Austin State University alumna. For story ideas, email me at rtorres@tylerpaper.com.