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Church Investigations

Georgia Pastor Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud after Buying Mercedes with Fraudulent Pandemic Disaster Loan

A South Georgia pastor will forfeit the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan he bought with nearly $150,000 in fraudulent pandemic business disaster loans in accordance with a plea agreement after pleading guilty to two counts of wire fraud. 

Mack Devon Knight, 45, of Kingsland, Georgia, pleaded guilty to the charges March 25, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia said. Knight admitted sending fictitious documents to the U.S. Small Business Administration, including a fake tax document and an altered bank record.

He will serve up to 20 years in prison and face financial penalties and restitution as well as three years of supervised release after completion of any prison sentence.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. 

Court documents and testimony showed that in February and March 2021, Knight applied for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) from the SBA on behalf of multiple Camden County, Georgia, businesses. In addition to being a pastor, he also characterized himself as a mortician, restaurateur, and tax preparer. The applications claimed that Knight’s businesses had brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue prior to the pandemic. 

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Knight received $149,900 from the SBA in response to one of the applications for an alleged tax business, and used most of the money to buy the Mercedes, federal agents said.

“Covid-19 disaster relief loans were issued by the government to help businesses struggling to survive during a pandemic, not to use for personal pleasures like Knight used them for,” said Philip Wislar, acting special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI is dedicated to holding accountable anyone who would abuse taxpayer dollars and divert them from citizens who desperately need them.”

 

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Anne Stych

Freelance writer, copy editor, proofreader and content manager. Science, technology, retail, etc. writer, ACBJ BizWomen.

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