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Spokane man gets 5 years probation after pleading guilty to COVID-19 relief fraud

Aug. 16, 2022 Updated Tue., Aug. 16, 2022 at 8:55 p.m.

The Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse in Spokane.  (JESSE TINSLEY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
The Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse in Spokane. (JESSE TINSLEY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A Spokane man who admitted to defrauding the government of $54,900 in COVID-19 relief money has been sentenced to five years of probation.

Roshon E. Thomas, 42, pleaded guilty to providing false financial statements to the Small Business Administration about two businesses – a tattoo parlor and T-shirt printer – in order to receive loans intended to assist during the pandemic. Thomas fabricated employee counts and earnings for the two businesses, but he used his real name, address and Social Security number.

The case was investigated as part of the Eastern Washington U.S. Attorney’s Office’s task force on pandemic-related fraud. Thomas’ sentence is the first handed down as a result of the task force’s investigative work, U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref said in a statement.

“We created the Eastern Washington COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force because combating pandemic-related fraud and holding those accountable who abused these programs is critical to protecting our small and local businesses, and the critical jobs and services that they provide for the community,” Waldref said.

Thomas said in court pleadings he intended to pay the money back, and had applied for the loans to cover medical expenses related to his end-stage kidney disease.

He requested the probation sentence, which was granted by U.S. District Court Senior Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson on Tuesday. Submitted with his sentencing request was a letter from Swedish Health Services in Seattle confirming an appointment for a kidney transplant later this fall.

Peterson also ordered Thomas to repay the money he received from the government.

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