Moses Lake resident pleads guilty to fraudulently obtaining $50,000 in COVID-19 relief funds | USAO-EDWA

Spokane, Wash. – Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Dondre Charles Jackson, 29, of Moses Lake, Wash., pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining 49,999 $ in COVID-19 relief funds. This case is part of the Eastern Washington COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force launched by the U.S. Attorney’s Office earlier this year. District Judge Thomas O. Rice accepted Thomas’ guilty plea and sentenced Jan. 5, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. in Spokane, Washington.

On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). The CARES Act provided a number of programs through which eligible small businesses could apply for and obtain relief funding intended to mitigate the economic impacts of the pandemic for small businesses and local businesses. One such program, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), provided forgivable loans to eligible small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses.

According to the plea agreement and information disclosed in the court proceedings, Jackson fraudulently obtained two PPP loans totaling $49,999 for his alleged restaurant and catering business, and submitted fraudulent tax documents in support of his request. According to the plea agreement and other information disclosed during the court proceedings, Jackson’s business was fictitious, the documentation he provided was false and fraudulent, and therefore he was ineligible for funding. PPP.

“COVID-19 relief programs quickly ran out of money due to the number of people and businesses applying for funding, meaning some deserving small businesses were unable to secure funding to sustain their operations. operating during the COVID-19 pandemic,” U.S. Attorney Waldref said. “We created the Eastern Washington COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force because it is critical to the strength and safety of our communities that we all work together to combat pandemic-related fraud and bring much-needed accountability to these programs. The Strike Force works to ensure that limited resources are used to protect our local small businesses and the essential jobs and services they provide to the community.

In February 2022, U.S. Attorney Waldref and the U.S. Attorney’s Office began working with federal law enforcement agencies to create and launch a COVID-19 Fraud Task Force that would leverage partnerships between different agencies to aggressively investigate and prosecute fraud against COVID-19 relief programs in Eastern Washington. The strike force is made up of representatives from agencies of the United States Attorney’s Office, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department US Treasury, Inspector General of Tax Administration (TIGTA), US Secret Service, US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), US Department of Veterans Affairs OIG, General Services Administration OIG, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Energy OIG, Department of Homeland Security OIG, and others. Cases investigated and prosecuted by the Strike Force have resulted in numerous indictments, criminal prosecutions, and other penalties.

“I commend the stellar investigative work on these cases done by the Strike Force and in particular in this case by the SBA OIG and the Secret Service,” U.S. Attorney Waldref said. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to strengthen our communities by protecting our local small businesses.”

“In addition to the Small Business Administration, the Office of Inspector General and other task force partners, Greg Ligouri, Resident Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Spokane Office, expressed his thanks and appreciation to the Office of Grant County Sheriff and the Moses Lake Police Department for their cooperation in this investigation.IRAC Ligouri went on to say that communities are safer and better served when law enforcement agencies are able to mobilize resources, as was done in this case.

The case was investigated by the Eastern Washington COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force, and in particular by the SBA OIG and the US Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorneys Dan Fruchter and Tyler HL Tornabene are pursuing this case on behalf of the United States.

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