Pastor, Son Arrested in Florida for Fraud Over COVID-19 Loans

Efthymis Oraiopoulos
By Efthymis Oraiopoulos
December 17, 2022US News
Pastor, Son Arrested in Florida for Fraud Over COVID-19 Loans
Stock photo of police car with siren. (Pixabay)

A Florida pastor and his son were arrested on Wednesday over allegations of fraud related to more than $8 million in COVID loans, which they reportedly tried spending on a luxury residence.

Evan Edwards, 64, and his son Joshua Edwards, 30, were arrested at their home in New Smyrna Beach, about 15 miles south of Daytona Beach.

They were arrested on charges of bank fraud, conspiracy, making a false statement to a lending institution, and visa fraud, according to a six-count federal indictment.

The Edwardses are alleged to have collected more than $8 million of fraudulent money in the form of COVID relief funds.

According to prosecutors, the family used the loaned money to try and buy a 3.7 million luxury home at the Four Seasons residential community at Disney World and deposited the rest of the funds in bank accounts in an attempt to hide their whereabouts.

The fraud allegedly occurred in 2020 when Joshua Edwards applied for a COVID loan to cover payroll, rent, and utilities for ASLAN International Ministry Inc.

In a federal forfeiture complaint, Joshua Edwards claimed the ministry had 486 employees and a monthly payroll of $2.2 million, NBC News reported.

In reality, its monthly payroll expenses and revenues were “significantly lower, or non-existent,” the indictment said.

ASLAN was ultimately approved for an $8.4 million loan.

The civil judgment named two other family members who were not charged criminally.

The visa fraud charges stem from the Edwardses, who are Canadian, making false statements in June on their applications for permanent resident status, according to prosecutors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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