By: Andrea L. Mosely (Grand Jury Target)
As National Public Radio co-host and producer Jesse Thorn put it recently, we are a year into this novel coronavirus and the novelty has worn off. We have passed the one year mark for when most Americans realized that COVID-19 was about to turn our personal and work lives upside down. The chaos of this new reality resulted in a host of pandemic related reverberations inside government agencies including DoJ.
I personally earmark March 13 as the day the pandemic truly hit home for me. This was the last day I took the Metro into my Washington D.C. office. Schools in my area closed and court orders dripped in one by one cancelling in person hearings. On the heels of my last Metro ride, main DoJ, just a few blocks from my office, began a new era of pandemic anti-fraud enforcement strategies. Since then, I have been keeping a close eye on pandemic-related white collar investigations and prosecution patterns to assist in my defense of businesses and individuals facing government scrutiny for their participation in pandemic relief loan programs.
On April 1, 2020, DoJ announced that $16 million in federal funds from the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding package (CSEF) would be made available to help Virginia public safety agencies and local government agencies to respond to challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19. DoJ awarded grants on a rolling basis and by May 1, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia (“EDVA”) announced that $10.8 million was authorized for this effort. This enormous CSEF award to various Virginia jurisdictions was supplemented with an additional $2 million by the end of May. With all of this funding in place, a wave of investigations and prosecutions was inevitable.