A Florida businessman is headed to prison for five and a half years after being convicted in a massive COVID-19 federal relief fraud scheme. Among the purchases prosecutors said Patrick Parker Walsh made was an uninhabited two-acre island roughly a mile off the Gulf Coast.
The defendant was accused of stealing almost $8 million in funds intended to prop up the American economy during the pandemic.
— New York Post (@nypost) November 10, 2023
Sweetheart Island is a paradise found in Withlacoochee Bay offering spectacular sunset views across the open water to the west. They will not be witnessed anytime soon by Walsh, who pilfered part of the hundreds of billions misspent by Washington.
The Associated Press estimated that as much as 10% of the $4.3 trillion shelled out by the federal government was criminally obtained. Some studies put that shocking number even higher.
Whatever the final total amounts to, it is undoubtedly the greatest single fraud in the history of the U.S. and perhaps the world.
A report at the end of August showed that nearly 3,200 people had been arrested on charges of COVID-related fraud. Over the summer, the Department of Justice said it conducted investigations into wrongdoing connected to $8.6 billion in stolen federal funds.
And that is just a drop in the bucket.
One New Jersey man is accused of filing $124 million in fraudulent tax returns. There is even a case of a Milwaukee street gang using diverted dollars in a murder-for-hire scheme.
The theft cases are as varied as they are shocking. One notoriously dim-witted rapper from Tennessee went on YouTube and boasted of the simplicity of scamming over $700,000 from Washington.
His fraud involved unemployment insurance.
A suspect who formerly owned a pizza restaurant and hosted a cryptocurrency-related radio program also ran into serious trouble. His crime? Allegedly using stolen aid to procure an alpaca farm in Vermont.
An ex-Nigerian official scammed half a million from Washington’s COVID-19 handouts before he was arrested. When he was taken into custody, he was wearing a $35,000 gold chain and a $10,000 watch.
Only approximately $1.4 billion in stolen COVID funds has been recovered by the government. Most simply vanished.