Subcontractor could face 30 years in Covid relief fraud case

His company supplied labour to the US’ main nuclear waste depository in Hanford (US Department of Energy/public domain)
A subcontractor working on the Hanford nuclear site in Washington State has been indicted by a grand jury over accusations that he fraudulently obtained a Covid relief loan of $1.4m.

Wilson Pershing Stevenson III, 44, the owner of BNL Technical Services, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years if found guilty on all 11 counts he has been charged with.

Between 2020 and 2021, BNL provided contract labour services to Hanford Site prime contractors.

Most of the money was intended to pay workers, but Stevenson has been accused of using it for his personal benefit since his workers were being remunerated with money provided by the Department of Energy.

According to prosecutors, Stevenson used most of the relief money he received to pay off credit cards, including his wife’s. He also transferred some to his father and a family trust.

Stevenson then obtained forgiveness for more than $1.3m of the money by falsely representing that they had been used for payroll and other eligible business expenses, prosecutors say.

Vanessa Waldref, a US attorney, said: “Covid-19 relief programmes quickly ran out of money due to the number of people and businesses that requested funding, which meant that some deserving small businesses were not able to obtain funding.”

Altogether, Stevenson faces five counts of wire fraud, three counts of bank fraud and three counts of false, fictitious or fraudulent claims related to loans from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

The charges are the most recent to be announced by the Eastern Washington COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force, which was created in 2022 to combat fraud against COVID-19 relief programmes.

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