For allegedly collecting more than $8 million in federal Covid assistance payments fraudulently, a Florida preacher and his son were detained.
Evan and Joshua Edwards, both of Orlando, were detained on Wednesday on suspicion of using the money for opulent purchases like a multimillion-dollar home close to Walt Disney World.
Under the condition of anonymity, a neighbor told NBC News, “I’m delighted they got arrested.” It has taken a while.
The father and son, who are both from Canada, are accused of conspiring to commit bank fraud, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
In order to spread “Christian love in doctrine and service to the destitute,” the Edwards, who are Christian missionaries, ran the faith-based Aslan International Ministry.
Where Was The Family Relocated?
The family relocated to Florida in 2019 after serving as missionaries in Turkey, approximately an hour outside Orlando.
According to federal authorities, the Edwards family allegedly started engaging in fraud in April 2020.
When they submitted a false loan request to the Protection Paycheck Program (PPP), claiming that the family ministry had 486 workers and a $2.7 million payment each month.
A complaint filed by the Justice Department claims that the family used the money to buy a Four Seasons Private Residence in Golden Oak.
According to the complaint, money was moved into family bank accounts “in an attempt to cover and conceal their whereabouts.”
In September 2020, federal investigators attempted to search the Golden Oak house but discovered it to be unoccupied.
The family’s Mercedes SUV was subsequently stopped, according to NBC.
Shredded papers, financial information, and technological gadgets were found in bags that had been placed in “Faraday bags” to block radio frequencies and avoid tracking, according to the police.
The family was detained on an immigrant charge but was freed the following day after the case was dropped.
A judge ruled in April 2021 that the $8.4 million the family wrongfully acquired must be forfeited. The family did not dispute the seizure.