Pastor and family stole $8M from taxpayers in Covid scam, feds say. Why haven’t they been charged?
Federal agents in Florida had been seeking to question Evan Edwards, a pastor, and his family for days when their Mercedes SUV was spotted speeding on I-75 north of Gainesville.
The Edwardses were Christian missionaries from Canada who lived in Turkey for many years and moved to Florida in 2019. On paper they ran a faith-based charity with a high-minded mission: to “communicate Christian love in doctrine and service to the poor.”
But by the fall of 2020, the family of four — dad Evan; mom Mary Jane; daughter Joy, 36; and son Josh, 30 — were suspected of pulling off a multimillion-dollar fraud that targeted the government’s Covid relief program for small businesses and nonprofits.
The Edwardses received more than $8 million after Josh filed paperwork falsely claiming that their ministry, ASLAN International Ministry, had 486 employees and a monthly payroll of $2.7 million, according to a federal forfeiture complaint.
A federal investigation raised serious red flags. Among them: The accountant who purportedly signed off on the loan allegedly had dementia and hadn’t done any work for the organization since 2017.
Now, just after 8:49 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2020, the Edwardses’ beige Mercedes was being pulled over by three Florida Highway Patrol cars. All four family members were inside the vehicle.
Evan Edwards told the officers they were headed to a conference in Texas, but he could not provide any specifics, according to the complaint.
Federal agents arrived on the scene…