North Tonawanda man indicted for COVID-19 relief fraud and credit card fraud

 

Date: March 10, 2021

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

BUFFALO, NY — U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned a five-count indictment charging Michael Kornaker of North Tonawanda, NY, with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The charges carry a minimum penalty of two years in prison, a maximum penalty of 20 years, and a $250,000 fine.

"As alleged in the indictment, the defendant's conduct has demonstrated that he is a serial fraudster who will stop at nothing to fill his own pockets with money intended for those in need," stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. "Let this prosecution put the defendant and others like him on notice—we are paying attention, and if you commit fraud trying to enrich yourselves with money earmarked for those hardest hit by the pandemic, then the only return you should expect to receive is one from a federal grand jury in the form of an indictment."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas A. C. Penrose, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment and a previously filed complaint, Kornaker was recently released from federal prison following a prior fraud conviction and was on supervised release. Between June and August 2020, the defendant fraudulently applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The EIDL program provides funds to small businesses or private, non-profit organizations that suffer substantial economic injury as a result of a declared disaster, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Kornaker applied for $60,500 by using the name and personal information of another person and without that person's permission. In addition, the defendant fraudulently applied for an American Express credit card using the same person's name and personal information and without their permission.

The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.