Arnaudville man facing up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to theft of COVID-19 funds

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — An Arnaudville man pleaded guilty in federal court to receiving Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments that he did not need, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander Van Hook.

Burnell Zachary, 37, of Arnaudville, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, 3 years of supervised
release, and a fine of up to $250,000.

CFAP was designed to assist agriculture workers whose businesses and operations were directly impacted by the pandemic. Eligible applicants included producers who suffered a 5% or greater decline, or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19. CFAP also provided direct relief to livestock producers.

Zachary submitted an application falsely claiming significant losses. He made false claims about his cattle inventory at Zachary’s Ranch, LLC. Through CFAP, Zachary collected over $70,000 in benefits.

“The USDA COVID-19 food assistance programs were meant to keep food on tables during this unprecedented time,” said Dax Roberson, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General. “This prosecution should send a strong zero-tolerance message to those opportunistic fraudsters who would take advantage of a national emergency to enrich themselves.”

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