A Michigan man looks to be on the run after allegedly conspiring to steal $2.5 million in coronavirus relief funds.
Johnny Richardson, 25, and his girlfriend Micahia Taylor, 27, are accused of teaming up with Brandi Hawkins, a contract employee of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, to embezzle the money.
The couple bragged about their newfound fortune on Instagram. In one post, Richardson shared a photo of a gift-wrapped Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon worth more than $130,000.
“BABY YOU DESERVE EVERYTHING I GOT THE BIG HOUSE YOU WANTED AND THE CAR AND THE JEWELRY,” Richardson wrote in the Instagram post. “BTW I LOVE YOU SO MUCH AND I’M NOT DONE NEXT WEEK I GOT SOMETHING BETTER.”
The account is private, but The Detroit News posted a screenshot of the post.
Hawkins, 39, was arrested in July for allegedly using her “insider access” to “fraudulently release payment on hundreds of fraudulent claims.” Feds assert that Hawkins used her proceeds to buy high-end handbags and other luxury items.
Taylor appeared in federal court on Tuesday while agents continued their search for Richardson and the rest of the missing cash.
The feds requested that Taylor wear a GPS tether, citing that she may be a flight risk. A judge denied that request.
The couple came under suspicion after the July raid of Hawkins’ home resulted in the seizure of “approximately $238,000 in cash, Louis Vuitton merchandise and receipts for other luxury items.”
According to The Detroit News, “A search of her cellphone uncovered messages between Hawkins and others regarding unemployment benefits. That includes messages from Taylor and communications involving unemployment claims for Richardson.”
Upon the completion of a federal investigation, the Department of Justice will decide what charges Hawkins, Taylor and Richardson will face. Possibilities include theft and wire fraud, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.