A Florida father and son stole $8.4 million from corporate COVID-19 relief programs as federal prosecutors tried to sell millions of dollars in residential property near Walt Disney World. He was arrested on federal fraud charges after stating,

Evan Edwards and his son Joshua Edwards ran Aslan International Ministry, a non-profit organization that “allegedly provided religious services,” according to the indictment.

In April 2020, prosecutors said the department submitted fraudulent loan applications to the federal Paycheck Protection Program. It was intended to provide a forgivable credit to help businesses cover labour and other expenses during the pandemic, and in the end, he received $8,417,200 in PPP funding.

Allegations against the family

Evan and Josh filed fake IRS tax returns, lied about the agency, which employs nearly 486 people and demanded an average of more than $2.7 million a month in labour costs to approve the loan.

The family invested $868,250 of his $8.4 million to purchase her $3.7 million home in the upscale neighbourhood of Orlando, Florida. The rest of her $7.5 million was transferred to a Bank of America bank account held by the Church of Florida.

A Secret Her Service investigator visited the ministry’s office address and found it vacant. Neighbours told investigators they saw no activity inside the building. The man listed as the ministry’s director on the PPP loan application had not worked for Aslan since 2012 and was unaware that his name was still in the company’s records.

The accountant who allegedly signed his fake IRS forms for the agency has dementia and hasn’t done bookkeeping since 2017.

In the fall of 2020, Secret Service agents executed a search warrant at the Edwards’ home, an hour northeast of Orlando, and discovered it had been completely eviscerated, the lawsuit alleges.

The next day, members of the Edwards family, including Evan and Joshua, were stopped for speeding on a Florida highway.

The family told the officer they were on their way to Texas for a conference. According to the lawsuit, the vehicle was filled with suitcases, a Faraday bag containing a laptop and tablet, two transparent trash bags filled with shredded documents, and a shredder. Authorities eventually received a search warrant for the vehicle’s contents.

Confiscation and arrest

A federal judge ordered the forfeiture of $8.4 million in April 2021, according to a press release from the Justice Department, accusing Mary and Joy of defrauding the government. But the Edwards family, as NBC News reported last year, managed to avoid criminal prosecution, even as the DOJ began to crack down on similar PPP loan fraud cases.


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