According to the Department of Justice, seventeen more people have been accused of fraudulently obtaining over $11.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and using the money to buy expensive cars, jewelry, and other personal items.
Court documents and testimony state that the defendants submitted or aided in submitting PPP loan applications on behalf of 14 enterprises seeking loans of up to $800,000 each between May and August 2020.
The defendants certified in the loan applications that each applicant business was in operation on Feb. 15, 2020, had employees for whom it paid salaries and payroll taxes or paid independent contractors, that the funds would be used to retain workers and maintain payroll, or to make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments, and that the information provided in the loan applications was accurate.
Each business reported having around 60 employees and an average monthly payroll expense of $300,000 in the PPP loan applications. Each business’ loan application was supported with an IRS Form 941, which employers use to record payroll taxes to back up these payroll figures. In actuality, each Form 941 was a forgery.
Following the placement of the PPP loan profits into the businesses’ accounts, the cash was allocated to conspirators through a series of transactions designed to conceal the funds’ origins and how they were spent. The defendants and co-conspirators utilized the funds from the PPP loan to buy expensive vehicles, including two Range Rovers, an Acura NSX, and a Mercedes Benz S-Class S65 AMG.
In the first superseding indictment announced on July 14, fourteen individuals were accused.
The defendants risk a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted of wire fraud and money laundering and a maximum sentence of 30 years if convicted of bank fraud and making a false statement to a federally insured bank. On top of that, Ricky Dixon, 52, of Warren, Michigan, faces a two-year sentence for aggravated identity theft. After considering the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory criteria, a federal district court judge will impose any sentence.
Since the first indictment was returned on August 4, 2020, six individuals have pleaded guilty based on their participation in the fraudulent conspiracy, including the mastermind, Darrell Thomas, 35.