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Economic Development

Sept. 10 - Tybee Island Shrimper Sentenced To More Than Six Years in Prison; to Pay Nearly $1 Million in Restitution

Scheme claimed non-existent losses from foreign competition

By Lou Phelps, SBJ

September 10, 2018 - A Tybee Island shrimper and fisherman will spend more than six years in federal prison after United States District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. sentenced him Aug. 30 for a case involving fraudulent claims for losses from foreign competition.

Michael Brian Anderson, who was convicted by a federal jury March 22, 2018, was sentenced for three counts of false statements, four counts of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering. In addition to the 77-month prison sentence, Judge Moore also ordered Anderson to pay $818,234 in restitution. The court imposed a longer sentence than standard guidelines for the case because of aggravating factors that included Anderson’s perjury during the trial and the number of victims in the case, including the use of a deceased person to further the scheme.

During the trial, prosecutors from the Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney’s Office presented evidence that Anderson submitted multiple false claims to Customs & Border Protection (CBP) seeking millions of dollars in subsidies under the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000 (CDSOA). The CDSOA allowed American shrimp producers to apply for federal funding to reimburse income they lost due to foreign competition.

Anderson, an eligible domestic shrimper, applied to CBP for subsidies based on the claim that his shrimping business expenses from 2005 to 2007 were more than $24 million – a claim refuted during his trial, and further debunked by Anderson’s own bank records and tax returns. Based on Anderson’s fraud, the U.S. government paid Anderson more than $800,000 to which he was not entitled.  Anderson used those illegally obtained proceeds to purchase boats, stock and real estate.

“Brian Anderson submitted millions of dollars in inflated invoices for one simple reason: greed,” said United States Attorney Bobby L. Christine. “By overinflating the amount he was entitled to receive under the CDSOA, Brian Anderson diverted money from hard-working shrimpers into his own pocket. Our office is devoted to aggressively prosecuting anyone who seeks to steal public money.”   

“Fraud schemes like the one uncovered in this case directly steal from hard-working U.S. taxpayers by making false claims to exploit a federal subsidy program,” said Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta Nick S. Annan. “HSI is committed to working with its law enforcement partners to pursue transnational fraud cases aggressively and hold accountable those who seek to illegally enrich themselves.”

U.S. Attorney Christine commended the hard work and dedication of the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and Customs and Border Protection, who jointly investigated the case.  

Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Kirkland and Tania Groover prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States. For any questions, please contact Barry Paschal at (912) 652-4422.

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