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Date: 05-23-2023

Case Style:

United States of America v. Bryan Alan Sparks

Case Number: 2:21-cr-00189

Judge: James L. Robert

Court: United States District Court for the Western District of Washington (King County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Seattle

Defendant's Attorney:

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Description: Seattle, Washington criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with defrauding the federal COVID-19 benefit programs of more than $1 million for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft

Bryan Alan Sparks, 42, was indicted for the fraud scheme in November 2021 and pleaded guilty January 20,2023. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart said, Sparks was “a serial thief and a fraudster – one of the more successful ones…. I am appalled by the damage Mr. Sparks has done.”

“People such as Mr. Sparks took advantage of the public and our government at the height of a crisis, and I’m glad to see him held accountable for the damage he caused,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “The harm goes beyond depleting government funds – his use of other people’s identities has damaged the victims and will continue to cause problems for them into the future.”

According to records filed in the case, from March 2020 until at least January 2021, Sparks and a coconspirator used stolen personal information of more than 50 Washington residents and businesses to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and unemployment benefits from the Washington Employment Security Department (ESD). Sparks and his coconspirator obtained approximately $521,900 from SBA and $519,700 from ESD. Sparks opened fraudulent bank accounts to receive the benefits and had unemployment benefit debit cards mailed to a variety of addresses in the Seattle area where he could retrieve them. In all, Sparks attempted to obtain at least $1.98 million in federally funded payments.

Sparks used the identities of real people and, in some instances, actual small businesses to open bank and credit accounts. The victims suffered significant harm. One person saw his credit score drop 200 points because of the seven credit and bank accounts opened in his name. The victim’s impact statement stated that the financial toll of Sparks’ crimes included being unable to execute his plan to start a business and invest in real estate. He believes that these consequences will be lasting for “years to come.”

Another victim wrote about spending hours on the phone with law enforcement reporting the identity theft. “This fraud has changed me and will always cause me to have concern for my safety and for my family’s safety . . . This is something that I would never want anyone else to have to deal with. It is not a good feeling, and this is how it will be.”

In September 2020, law enforcement linked Sparks to lock boxes seized in Portland, Oregon. When the safes were searched, officers seized more than $65,000 in cash and a number of debit cards.

Assistant United States Attorney Cindy Chang wrote in her sentencing memo, “During a nine-month period, despite multiple encounters and seizures by law enforcement in multiple states, Sparks possessed at least 46 cell phones, 14 laptops, multiple credit card skimmers, countless bank and identification cards in identities other than Sparks…, and various other sophisticated devices used for identity theft.”

In all, Sparks was ordered to pay $1,041,661 in restitution to the government programs. He will be on supervised release for five years following the prison term.

“Bryan Sparks caused substantial harm to individuals by stealing their identities and misusing Social Security numbers,” said Gail Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “This sentence of 100 months holds Sparks accountable for his actions. I thank our law enforcement partners for their invaluable work on this case and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case.”

The investigation of this case is led by the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General (SSA-OIG) and U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with partners: Colusa County Sheriff’s Office (CA); Washington State Employment Security Department; Small Business Administration, Office of the Inspector General; Amtrak Police Department (D.C.); FBI (Sacramento, CA office); FBI Cyber Task Force (D.C.); Washington State Department of Licensing, Driver and Vehicle Investigations; and the Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cindy Chang and Seth Wilkinson.

Wire Fraud - 18:1343 and 2

Aggravated Identity Theft - 18:1028A(a)(1) and 2

Outcome: Defendant is committed to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons for a term of 76 months on Count 11, and 24 months on Count 15, with both counts to run consecutively for a total term of 100 months. Upon release from custody, Defendant is subject to 5 years of supervised release. $200.00 special assessment imposed; fine waived; $1,041,661.00 in restitution.

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