Channel 9 looks into whether EatWorkPlay qualified for COVID-19 relief funds

CHARLOTTE — EatWorkPlay, a once-prominent business in the Queen City went belly up earlier this year but somehow, the company received tens of thousands of dollars in PPP funds.

Channel 9 has investigated EatWorkPlay since 2019 when the company canceled a gala benefiting Levine Children’s Hospital but kept some money from ticket sales.

Now, we’ve learned the business got a COVID relief grant, but there are questions about whether EatWorkPlay really qualified for that cash.

The Small Business Administration rules said that live venue operators or promoters must have been in operation as of Feb. 29, 2020. But it doesn’t appear EatWorkPlay has hosted any events since canceling the 2019 fundraiser for Levine Children’s Hospital.

EatWorkPlay dissolved as a business in June of this year.

Charlotte attorney Larry Shaheen helped many business owners apply for grants, and said if EatWorkPlay’s books can’t prove they followed all the SBA rules, they could face legal trouble.

“He wasn’t operating and can’t prove that he was operating,” Shaheen said. “It is fraud, 100% fraud. No question about it and they tell you upfront, you have to certify all the categories and qualifications on the application itself.”

The SBA wouldn’t comment on whether they’re investigating EatWorkPlay and neither would the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

But federal prosecutors in Charlotte have indicted 13 people on criminal charges related to COVID fraud, calling it one of their office’s highest priorities.

Channel 9 contacted EatWorkPlay owner Davon Bailey’s last known attorney and haven’t heard back.

We also discovered that Bailey started another company in May called Apex Marketing Group.

Federal prosecutors encourage anyone who suspects coronavirus relief funds being misused to contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud.

[WATCH BELOW: Action 9 tracks down man behind EatWorkPlay, asks him about refunds]

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