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Catawba County Man Charged With Federal COVID-19 Relief Fraud
Spenc'r Denard Rickerson
WHKY file photo

Catawba County Man Charged With Federal COVID-19 Relief Fraud

A federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte returned a criminal indictment against 35-year-old Spenc’r Denard Rickerson of Claremont, charging him with wire fraud and bank robbery offenses. The announcement was made Tuesday (March 22) by Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. The indictment was returned on March 15, 2022, and was unsealed Tuesday following Rickerson’s arrest on Monday (March 21).

According to allegations in the indictment, between June 30, 2020, and March 20, 2021, Rickerson used false information to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and multiple Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

To obtain the PPP loan, the indictment alleges that Rickerson submitted a fraudulent application for a non-existent company that contained a number of falsehoods, including the purpose of the loan and the company’s payroll costs. The indictment also alleges that Rickerson submitted fraudulent applications for several loans under the EIDL program, in which he provided fake information about the number of company employees and gross revenues. As a result of the fraudulent PPP and EIDL loan applications, Rickerson allegedly received over $74,200 in fraudulent funds intended to assist businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the fraudulent loan scheme, according to allegations in the indictment, on March 18, 2021, Rickerson committed an armed robbery of a BB&T Bank located at 12 North Main Avenue, in Newton. Rickerson allegedly used the stolen funds from the fraudulent loan scheme and the bank robbery to pay bills and to buy cryptocurrency.

Rickerson was placed into federal custody. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for the bank robbery offense is 25 years and a $250,000 fine.

The FBI in Charlotte investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lambert Guinn and Jenny G. Sugar of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are in charge of the prosecution.