Berwick man pleads guilty to $400,000 COVID-relief fraud

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WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Berwick man has pleaded guilty to committing wire fraud in a scheme to obtain over $400,000 in COVID-19 relief funds.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Hayes D. Horner, Jr., age 67, of Berwick, plead guilty in a scheme to gain over $400,000 in the COVID-19 relief funds.

The fund was guaranteed by the Small Business Administration through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

Officials stated Horner attempted to obtain the funds by opening two bank accounts that received EIDL funds and asked for a loan application made in the names of identity theft victims.

According to the attorney offices’, Horner allegedly withdrew over $58,000 in EIDL funds and unsuccessfully wired $165,000 to other accounts under his control.

Investigators say they found over $100,000 in EIDL funds from a bank account under Horner’s control. In his guilty plea, Horner agreed to return the funds and to repay $160,000 in restitution.

Horner pled guilty on October 18, 2021, and was released pending sentencing.

Officials ask anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721.

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