Columbia man guilty of fraud used COVID relief on motorcycle, BMW car, prosecutor says

A Columbia man faces decades in prison after pleading guilty to fraud related to COVID benefits, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Michael Eugene Bowers, 51, received nearly half a million dollars from the government after he submitted an Economic Injury Disaster Loans application through the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

On Dec. 20, 2021, the government wired $480,900 to a bank account that Bower controlled, according to the release.

Bowers then used the money for personal expenses, including buying a Suzuki motorcycle and paying off his BMW car, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Officials didn’t specify how much COVID money Bowers spent.

Bowers faces a maximum punishment of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, in addition to paying restitution, according to the release. He also could be ordered to three years of supervision to follow any prison term, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

U.S. Senior District Judge Joseph Anderson, Jr. accepted the guilty plea and will sentence Bowers after receiving and reviewing a sentencing report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office, according to the release.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and prosecuted by assistant U.S. Attorneys Winston Holliday and Scott Matthews.

Anyone with information about fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by using the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Web Complaint Form.

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