(The Center Square) – A final arrest and initial court appearance has been made for six people – all indicted in September – accused of defrauding a housing program during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The scheme drew disbursements of more than $279,000, a release from the federal attorneys in the Eastern District of North Carolina office says.
Those accused used the North Carolina HOPE program to their benefit. The Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions program provided rent and utility bill assistance to renters financially impacted by the pandemic, a time starting in March 2020 when Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper forced thousands of businesses to close temporarily. Many never reopened.
The program served “low-income renters,” defined as earning less or equal to 80% of the area median income for the county where the renter lived. It was available in 88 of the state’s 100 counties.
Federal prosecutors say 44 fraudulent applications to the program were filed by the six people indicted, beginning in June 2021 and running through February 2022. They are Joe Lewis Jefferson, 50, and Danyael Davis Jefferson, 50, each of Nashville; Arkino Montrillis Williams, 51, of Enfield; Timothy Kelvin Harvey, 41, of Roanoke Rapids; and John Lee Bass, 49, and Douglas Roberson, 34, of Rocky Mount.