Michael Brian Anderson, a Tybee Island shrimper and fisherman, was convicted March 22 by a federal jury on three counts of false statements, four counts of mail fraud, and two counts of money laundering, after being paid more than $800,000 by the federal government.
U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore, Jr. presided over Anderson’s three-day trial in Savannah.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Anderson submitted multiple false claims to Customs & Border Protection (CBP) seeking millions of dollars in subsidies under the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000 (CDSOA).
The CDSOA protected American shrimp producers by imposing anti-dumping taxes on foreign producers and permitting domestic shrimpers to apply for the money they would have made but for unfair foreign competition.
Anderson, an eligible domestic shrimper, completed and mailed multiple false certifications to CBP, stating that his shrimping business expenses for the years 2005 to 2007 were more than $24 million.
Anderson claimed that he spent almost all of this money on the purchase of 3.9 million pounds of raw shrimp from R&R Seafood, a small seafood store on Tybee Island. However, the evidence showed that R&R Seafood never sold anywhere near that amount of shrimp in the entire time it was in business.
Anderson’s bank records and tax returns further debunked his claimed expenses. Based on Anderson’s fraud, the U.S. government paid Anderson more than $800,000 to which he was not entitled. Anderson used those proceeds of his fraud to purchase boats, stocks and property.
“Brian Anderson submitted millions of dollars in inflated invoices, for one simple reason: greed,” U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine said. “The CDSOA was established to help protect our local American shrimpers from unfair foreign competition. Little did we know that the biggest threat to our honest shrimpers would come, not from across the seas, but from our own nearby creek.
“By overinflating the amount he was entitled to receive under the CDSOA, Brian Anderson diverted money from the pockets of hard working shrimpers into his own pocket. Our office is devoted to aggressively prosecuting anyone who seeks to steal public money by fraud.”
Christine commended the hard work and dedication of the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection, who jointly investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Kirkland and Tania Groover prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.