Feds: Man pleads guilty to faking COVID-19 diagnosis to defraud employer

Santwon Antonio Davis pleaded guilty to federal charges Monday.
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Santwon Antonio Davis pleaded guilty to federal charges Monday.

A man pleaded guilty to federal charges Monday after the FBI said he defrauded an Atlanta company out of thousands of dollars by faking a COVID-19 diagnosis.

Santwon Antonio Davis, 34, of Morrow, admitted to lying to his employer about contracting the novel virus, prompting the business to temporarily shut down, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia said.

Davis was arrested by the FBI in May after he faked a positive COVID-19 medical excuse letter, according to U.S. Attorney BJay Pak.

The incident prompted his employer to stop business and sanitize the workplace, Pak said. His employer, which was left anonymous, is a Fortune 500 company, according to Pak.

“In concern for its employees and customers, the corporation closed its facility for cleaning and paid its employees during the shutdown,” he said. “This caused a loss in excess of $100,000 to the corporation and the unnecessary quarantine of several of the defendant’s coworkers.”

Since then, Davis has admitted that he did not have COVID-19, the release said.

While investigating the COVID-19 fraud incident, authorities learned of a previous instance in which Davis submitted fraudulent documentation in order to receive benefits from his employer.

In the fall of 2019, Davis reportedly claimed his child had died and submitted documents for a paid bereavement leave, officials said.

“This child never existed and was fabricated so that the defendant could obtain benefits to which he was not entitled,” Pak said.

Later, while on a pretrial release from the COVID-19 fraud charges, Davis submitted a mortgage application with “numerous fraudulent statements,” including a fake earnings statement and a false employment history. The mortgage company discovered the fraud after seeing news stories related to the COVID-19 charges, Pak said.

ExploreFBI: Man faked COVID-19 diagnosis, forcing boss to close Atlanta business for cleaning

Davis pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in the COVID-19 incident and one count of bank fraud in connection with the mortgage application. He has not been sentenced on the charges.

This is not the first time Davis has been the center of an investigation. Since 2006, he has served three stints in prison, totaling nearly 18 months in custody, according to Georgia Department of Corrections records. In Clayton and Spalding counties, Davis has been convicted of theft by taking, theft by receiving, criminal trespassing and criminal damage to property.

He was most recently released from prison on Feb. 27, 2019, GDC records show.

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