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Georgia pastor, activist accused of COVID relief fraud used money for new Mercedes, DOJ says

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A South Georgia pastor who’s also a mortician, restaurateur, activist and tax preparer has been accused of COVID-19 recovery assistance fraud, according to the Department of Justice.

Mack Knight, 45, of Kingsland is charged in a five-count indictment that accuses Knight of lying to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in connection with applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs), according to David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

Knight now faces up to 30 years in prison and possible financial penalties.

“Funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Security (CARES) Act was provided to help small businesses survive pandemic-related losses,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “In coordination with our law enforcement partners, we will hold accountable those unscrupulous actors who attempt to swindle these funds for their own enrichment.”

According to the indictment, in February and March 2021, Knight applied for money on behalf of two Camden County businesses: Knight’s Tax Services and Daddy Earl’s Kitchen. Those applications falsely claimed that the businesses each had hundreds of thousands of dollars of gross revenue prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the DOJ.

After receiving nearly $150,000, Knight used part of the funds to buy a Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan, according to the indictment.

In the past, Knight has been outspoken about social justice issues. News4Jax interviewed him before he traveled to Minnesota to offer support and encourage peace following the death of George Floyd and he protested in the wake of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder.

He was also the spokesperson for a family mourning the death of Tony Green, who was shot and killed by a Kingsland police officer.

Attorney John Phillips, not affiliated with the case, is familiar with Knight’s community activism.

“When you have multiple businesses, you have to run each one right, and this CARES Act money wasn’t free money. It wasn’t take it and do what you want with it. It was relief,” he said.

A background check shows Knight was previously sentenced to a Georgia prison on charges of fraud and theft.

To report a COVID-19-related fraud scheme or suspicious activity, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling the NCDF Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

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