A Murrysville couple has been charged with charging $ 220K for a CARES Act with a rental scheme.

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A Murrysville couple has been charged with charging $ 220K for a CARES Act with a rental scheme.

Lane faces charges of conspiracy, theft, identify theft, forgery and money laundering, while Bennett is charged with conspiracy and device fraud, court records show. Lane was released on his own reconnaissance.

RELATED: Vital rental assistance program riddled with problems as Pa. prepares to resume evictions

Employees of ACTION Housing first flagged what they believed could be fraudulent applications for emergency rental assistance funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress during the covid-related economic slowdown.

The investigation into the pair began in late August.

Story Highlights

  • Devon Lane, 29, and Victoria Bennett, 36, were taken into custody by Monroeville police and held for arraignment at Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh.

  • Police said that officials served search warrants at the residence and obtained arrest warrants following several weeks of investigative work. The investigation used the cooperation of Allegheny County’s human services department and ACTION Housing, the nonprofit developer that administers funds such as the relief grants.

Among suspicious findings related to Lane’s property management company, Lane Living Management LLC: six applications tied to a property with only one certificate of occupation; the same unemployment assistance identifer used across a dozen different applications; and claims in the name of parents who weren’t actually behind on rent, a criminal complaint shows.

The county’s human services department requested help from the Allegheny County Police, which assigned detectives from its General Investigations Unit to the case.

Investigators obtained search warrants to track the defendants’ email and bank accounts, including online banking services such as CashApp and AppleCash. According to the complaint, surveillance video caught them transferring the fraudulently received money and spending it at Lowe’s and Walmart stores in North Versailles and Delmont and at the Macy’s department store at Monroeville Mall. Detectives also “applied for and served a series of search warrants and conducted interviews of property owners and complainants,” Allegheny County Police said.

Lane applied for more than $645,000 of relief-related funding, according to investigators. He received $222,280 before officials discovered the fraud. Officials asked anyone with information about the rental fraud case to call the county police tipline at 1-833-255-8477 (1-833-ALL-TIPS). Callers can remain anonymous.

RELATED: Westmoreland County gets $12.9 million for emergency rental aid for needy