Coffee County man sentenced to federal prison for illegally obtaining COVID-19 pandemic relief funds


Date: April 12, 2024


Waycross, GA — A Coffee County man was sentenced to federal prison and ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution for fraudulently obtaining funds intended to help businesses struggling financially during the pandemic.

Kyle Waldron of Douglas, Ga., was sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to money laundering, said Jill E. Steinberg, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood also ordered Waldron to pay $1,371,219 in restitution. During the investigation federal agents seized $326,461 from Waldron’s bank accounts, which is subject to forfeiture. Judge Wood ordered Waldron to serve three years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Kyle Waldron committed brazen fraud and theft from pandemic relief funds,” said U.S. Attorney Steinberg. “We continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who would illegally access these funds to fuel their own greed.”

Enacted by Congress in 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided more than $650 billion to financially struggling small businesses during the COIVD-19 pandemic. Those funds were disbursed primarily as grants and forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

As described in court documents and testimony, an investigation by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (CI) and the U.S. Secret Service determined that Waldron submitted at least 20 different PPP or EIDL applications on behalf of multiple businesses and individuals. To obtain loan funds, Waldron submitted multiple fake IRS forms in support of the funding applications, and falsely claimed large numbers of non-existent employees and inflated revenues in fraudulent requests for PPP and EIDL funding. Those applications resulted in SBA disbursements of more than $1.3 million.

“The sentence, along with the restitution, serves as a notice to those who committed COVID-19 fraud that CI special agents and our partners are still conducting investigations and holding them accountable,” said Demetrius Hardeman, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Atlanta Field Office.

“Waldron believed that he could commit fraud and steal money designated to help businesses struggling to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said J. Craig Reno, Resident Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service Savannah Resident Office. “This sentence should serve as a warning to potential thieves that they will be caught and prosecuted. As part of our dual protective and investigative mission, we are tasked with safeguarding the United States’ financial and payment systems from criminal exploitation. The U.S. Secret Service is committed to investigating cases of fraud and we work hand-in-hand with our law enforcement partners to pursue justice for victims of financial crime across the country.”

The case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service and prosecuted for the United States by Southern District of Georgia Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew A. Josephson and J. Bishop Ravenel.

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than a 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.