A Haynesville man has been indicted in federal court, accused of lying to get federal COVID unemployment - then calling in bomb threats to the places he was working.
Cortez Brown, 33, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on numerous charges, including threatening to unlawfully damage and destroy buildings in Sarepta and Springhill, Louisiana. Brown is charged in the indictment with four counts of wire fraud, two counts of theft of government money, and five counts of making explosive threats.
Brown is accused of lying about his employment status to get the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits that were provided by the federal government during the pandemic.
The indictment alleges that on or about May 10, 2020 Brown applied for unemployment benefits and in his application falsely stated that he was “not working” when in truth and in fact, he was employed and receiving wages from two jobs.
The state approved Brown’s application and issued a debit card for the unemployment benefits to him.
The indictment further alleges that Brown used the debit card, which was funded with unemployment benefits, to purchase, among other things, a cellular telephone which he used to send bomb threats to his employers, a factory in Sarepta, and a restaurant in Springhill.
If convicted, Brown faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the wire fraud counts, not more than 10 years in prison on the theft of government money and explosive threat counts, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, Louisiana Workforce Commission, Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office and Springhill Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Leon H. Whitten.