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North Carolina Prison Official Pleads Guilty to COVID-19 Program Fraud

On August 15, 2023, the Associate Warden for Programs at North Carolina’s Bertie Correctional Institution pleaded guilty to COVID-19 program fraud. The state Department of Adult Correction (DAC) confirmed that Sean Tracy Dillard, 55, admitted scamming the North Carolina Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (NC HOPE) program by submitting fake loan applications for emergency rental assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal officials said the funds from NC HOPE were supposed to help renters keep current with payments while unemployed during the pandemic. In loan applications Dillard filed for several Bertie County properties, he submitted fake lease agreements with the names of phony tenants in order to get rental payments from the program. At sentencing he faces up to 10 years in federal prison. See: United States v. Dillard, USDC (E.D.N.C.), Case No. 2:23-cr-00011.

DAC spokesperson John Bull stressed his agency has “zero tolerance for any staff involved in any illegal activity and [we] will take appropriate personnel action.” However, Bull was still employed at the time of his plea. He was hired as a guard in November 1993 and promoted several times before landing in his current job at an annual salary of $68,019.   


Additional source: Roanoke-Chowan News Herald

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Related legal case

United States v. Dillard