West Virginia man faces COVID fraud charges after claiming lost earnings while incarcerated

A West Virginia man has been indicted on wire fraud charges after obtaining COVID relief money by claiming he was operating a food truck when he was actually in federal prison.

Anton Matthews, 39, of Wheeling, has been charged with wire fraud after obtaining nearly $50,000 in CARES Act loans after misrepresenting his income and occupation. According to court documents, Matthews submitted a loan application in which he claimed to have established a food truck business in January 2019 and to have earned $103,000 in gross income in 2020. However, Matthews was in federal prison from November 2016 until October 2020, followed by a period of home confinement until March 2021.

“We will continue to aggressively pursue criminals who stole relief money that was meant to help Americans,” said United States Attorney William Ihlenfeld.

On the same day COVID fraud charges were filed against him, Matthews was also indicted for drug trafficking. The drug case alleges that Matthews conspired with others to distribute cocaine both inside and outside of the Third Alarm Bar on Wheeling Island in Ohio County last fall. Matthews faces a total of four cocaine distribution charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennie Conklin and Shawn Adkins are representing the government.

The fraud investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The drug investigation was conducted by the Ohio Valley Drug Task Force, which includes officers from the Wheeling Police Department, the Ohio County Sheriff’s Office, the West Virginia State Police, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.