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July 27, 2022

Kentucky Man Pleads Guilty to Forging Endorsement on a Treasury Check

On May 9, 2022, in the Eastern District of Kentucky, Tony Sparks pled guilty to passing a forged endorsement signature on an U.S. Treasury Economic Impact Payment (EIP) check distributed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, qualified individuals were eligible to receive EIP benefits. The IRS required individuals who had not filed taxes in 2019 to apply for their EIP benefits on the IRS’s website.

According to the court documents, in or around October 2020, an associate of Sparks requested his assistance in completing the online EIP application on her behalf as she was incarcerated at a county detention center and did not have regular access to the Internet. Sparks and his associate agreed that the EIP check would be sent to Sparks’ address and he would deliver the check to his associate. Sparks submitted the online EIP application using the Social Security Number and other identifying information of his associate, and on or around October 10, 2020, a U.S. Treasury check in the amount of $1,200 made payable to Sparks’ associate arrived at Sparks’ residence.

Instead of delivering the check to his associate, Sparks cashed the check at a local convenience store by forging the signature of his associate. Sparks kept the funds and lied to his associate advising that he was still waiting for the check to arrive.

Then in December 2020, additional CARES Act relief legislation was passed, and Sparks’ associate was eligible for an additional EIP check for $600. Because of the information supplied in the original EIP application, this payment was automatically generated from the IRS. Therefore, in January 2021, Sparks received the second EIP payment at his residence. He subsequently forged his associate’s signature and cashed the check, without her knowledge.

At sentencing, Sparks could receive a term of imprisonment for up to 10 years, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a term of supervised release for up to three years.

Source:  The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available document: E.D. Ken., Plea Agr., filed May 9, 2022.