LaPlace Man Charged With Cares Act Fraud
Published 4:11 am Wednesday, March 29, 2023
NEW ORLEANS – ERNEST X. TAYLOR, JR., of LaPlace, LA, age 38, was indicted on March 17, 2023, by a federal grand jury for two counts of making false statements related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) announced U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans.
On March 27, 2020, The CARES Act became effective and established several new temporary programs and provided for the expansion of others to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these programs, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) authorized forgivable loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to small businesses to retain workers and maintain payroll, make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments. The PPP allows the interest and principal on the PPP loan to be forgiven if the business spends the loan proceeds on these expense items within a designated period of time after receiving the proceeds and uses at least a certain percentage of the PPP loan proceeds on payroll expenses.
According to court documents, TAYLOR made false statements to an approved lender on or about March 2, 2021, for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining a PPP loan. TAYLOR falsely claimed in his PPP application that he had not been convicted of any felony involving “fraud, bribery, embezzlement, or a false statement in a loan application or an application for federal financial assistance” within the last 5 years. In truth, TAYLOR pleaded guilty in 2016, in the Eastern District of Virginia to conspiracy to commit federal student loan fraud and mail fraud in a scheme that involved stolen identities. Based upon these misrepresentations, TAYLOR received approximately $18,500 . TAYLOR then made the same false statements to an approved lender on or about April 21, 2021, when he applied for a second draw PPP loan. TAYLOR received approximately $18,5000 for the second loan.
TAYLOR faces a sentence of up to five years in prison, up to $250,000 in fines, and up to three years of supervised release for each false statements count. There is also a $100 mandatory special assessment fee per count due after conviction.
U.S. Attorney Evans reiterated that an indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
For more information on the Department of Justice’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus. Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the United States Secret Service in investigating this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. Rivera of the Financial Crimes Unit is in charge of the prosecution.