A Man Claims He Operated A Food Truck To Get A Pandemic Loan. Prosecutors Say He Was An Inmate

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia man who obtained a government loan during the pandemic after falsely claiming he was operating a food truck despite being an inmate at the time has been sentenced to more than 13 years in prison, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Anton Demetrius Matthews, previously convicted of wire fraud, cocaine trafficking and a supervised release violation, was ordered in federal court in Wheeling to pay $55,000 in restitution and a money judgment of $50,000, prosecutors said.

Matthews, 40, of Wheeling, obtained nearly $50,000 in federal pandemic relief loans after misrepresenting his income and occupation while he was incarcerated, U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld said in a statement.

The U.S. government loans were granted to businesses that were struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Matthews submitted a loan application in which he claimed to have established a food truck business in Wheeling in January 2019. He was in federal prison from November 2016 until October 2020. After his release from prison, Matthews sold cocaine from a neighborhood bar on Wheeling Island, the statement said.

“We have noticed an uptick in drug traffickers who are also engaging in white collar crime, committing acts such as COVID fraud or income tax fraud,” Ihlenfeld said. “Mr. Matthews is a good example of this trend, and he will pay a steep price for committing two serious, but very different, crimes.”