Man who faked COVID-19 diagnosis, defrauded employer earns federal sentence

The man will also have to pay more than $187,000 in restitution.
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The man will also have to pay more than $187,000 in restitution.

Credit: File photo

A man will serve the next three years in federal prison after he was convicted of defrauding an Atlanta company out of thousands of dollars by faking a COVID-19 diagnosis.

A U.S. District Court judge also ordered Santwon Antonio Davis to pay $187,550 in restitution to his former employer, who was forced to shut down for cleaning after receiving a fake positive diagnosis letter, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

“Davis’ history of lies caught up to him when he took advantage of a pandemic and caused undue harm to the company he worked for and their employees,” FBI Special Agent Chris Hacker said.

Davis, 34, of Morrow, was arrested by the FBI in May 2020 after investigators learned he had submitted a fake medical excuse record to his employer and claimed to have contracted COVID-19, U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine said.

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

The incident prompted the Fortune 500 company to stop business and sanitize the workplace, he said.

“In concern for its employees and customers, the corporation closed its facility for cleaning and paid its employees during the shutdown,” Erskine said.

Authorities previously said the closure caused a loss of more than $100,000 for the company and led to “the unnecessary quarantine of several of the defendant’s coworkers.”

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,” Erskine said. “Davis fabricated the claim so that he could obtain benefits to which he was not entitled.”

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, Erskine said.

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

Davis pleaded guilty to the charges in December. In addition to the prison time and restitution, he will have to serve five years of supervised release.

The sentence will be Davis’ fourth stint in prison, according to Georgia Department of Corrections records. Since 2006, he has served nearly 18 months in custody.

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.