Postal worker admits to stealing drugs
BRUNSWICK, GA: A U.S. Postal Service supervisor who admitted stealing marijuana from a confiscated package has been sentenced to federal prison.
Howard Kerns, 53, of Dearing, Ga., was sentenced to two months in prison followed by two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to Theft of Mail Matter by a Postal Employee, a felony crime, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Kerns also was terminated from the U.S. Postal Service.
“The integrity of our U.S. Mail is dependent on the honesty of postal employees,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “Howard Kerns is the rare exception of workers who fail that test, and is being held accountable for that failure.”
As described in court documents and testimony, Kerns, who had previously worked in the post office in Evans, Ga., was working in the Brunswick, Ga., post office when a delivery arrived in August 2020 with a package suspected of containing marijuana. Postal workers put the package on a shelf in the postmaster’s office to await examination by a postal inspector from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Postal management later discovered the package had been opened and resealed, with the contents removed and reported to the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General for further investigation. After questioning, Kerns admitted stealing the package’s contents.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, and prosecuted for the United States by U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Bearden.
South Georgia pastor, tax preparer indicted for CARES Act fraud
BRUNSWICK, GA: A South Georgia man holding himself out as a pastor, mortician, restaurateur, and tax preparer has been indicted on COVID-19 recovery assistance fraud by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia.
Mack Devon Knight, 45, of Kingsland, Ga., is charged in a five-count indictment that accuses Knight of lying to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in connection with applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs), according to David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The charges carry a statutory penalty upon conviction of up to 30 years in prison, along with substantial financial penalties, followed by a period of supervised release.
There is no parole in the federal system.
As described in the indictment, in February and March 2021, Knight applied for EIDLs on behalf of two Camden County, Ga., businesses: Knight’s Tax Services, and Daddy Earl’s Kitchen. Those EIDL applications falsely affirmed that the businesses each had hundreds of thousands of dollars of gross revenue prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The indictment alleges that Knight then made and transmitted to the SBA a falsified bank document to deceive the SBA into approving one of Knight’s EIDL applications.
The indictment further alleges that, after receiving $149,900 from the SBA as a result of false and fraudulent representations in Knight’s loan application on behalf of Knight’s Tax Services, Knight used part of the funds to buy a Mercedes- Benz S-Class sedan.
Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
To report a COVID-19-related fraud scheme or suspicious activity, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling the NCDF Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www. justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint- form.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. Knight is being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan A. Porter and Patrick J. Schwedler.
Savannah man sentenced for distributing child pornography
SAVANNAH, GA: A Chatham County man has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison after admitting to distributing hundreds of images of child pornography.
James Groover, 57, of Savannah, was sentenced to 88 months in prison after pleading guilty to Distribution of Child Pornography, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker also ordered Groover to pay $15,000 in restitution to victims, register as a sex offender, and serve 15 years of supervised release after completion of his prison term.
There is no parole in the federal system.
As described in court documents and testimony, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children alerted Georgia’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force after identifying graphic child pornography shared from Groover’s address between September 2019 and February 2020. A subsequent search of his residence discovered hundreds of images and videos of child pornography on multiple devices belonging to Groover.
Anyone with information on suspected child sexual exploitation can contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-843-5678, or https://report.cybertip.org/.