After a court-ordered psychiatrist wrote a report suggesting that the Florida pastor Evan Edwards accused of participating in a Covid relief scam may be fabricating some of his symptoms, the mystery surrounding his health has grown. Pastor Evan Edwards, 64, has been in the hospital since December when he and his son were detained on suspicion of obtaining $8 million in fraudulent pandemic loans for a fictitious ministry.
The pastor and his son Joshua Edwards were indicted for forging documents from ASLAN International Ministry, and the pastor has been hospitalized. Reports say that ASLAN was a sham ministry.
Evan used the pandemic CARES ACT to his advantage in 2020 to apply for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. Additionally, the father and son falsely attested on the loan application that the PPP funds would be used for authorized purposes in addition to paying the payroll, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida stated in a press release.
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The defendants reportedly received about $8,417,200 in PPP loan funds based on false statements made in the loan application, some of which they allegedly used to make a down payment for the purchase of a multi-million-dollar home for themselves. His family intended to spend it on a house at the $3.7 million Disney World Resort.
After Edwards refused to take part in his initial court appearance and mumbled incoherently during a subsequent one, the judge demanded that a psychiatrist examine him. Dr. Ryan Hall, the psychiatrist, was unable to provide much information about the pastor’s condition.
According to an NBC News transcript of a court hearing on January 26, Magistrate Judge Leslie Hoffman Price stated that Edwards was “unable or unwilling” to communicate with the psychiatrist. In the end, Hall found that Edwards was not competent to stand trial. The judge, however, stated that it was unclear whether the alleged fraudster was fabricating a medical condition.
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Given that Hall’s report and the specifics of Edwards’ medical conditions are still under seal, the judge declined to provide any additional information. After only 15 minutes with Edwards, Hall came to the conclusion that he lacked competence. Hall was unable to determine whether the suspect’s illness was mental health-related or not.
In the meantime, in response to Price’s inquiry regarding the pastor’s communication abilities, defiance lawyer Brian Phillips pushed for a competency hearing. This month, a hearing will be held to decide whether Edwards will appear in court.
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