Schroder vows to go after every fraudulent MSRP penny

Published 11:39 am Saturday, August 19, 2023

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While State Treasurer John M. Schroder reports that the fraud rate for Louisiana’s Main Street Recovery Program (MSRP) has dropped from 1.32 percent to 0.83 percent, he has vowed that recovery efforts won’t stop until the program can close out entirely free of fraud.

“It doesn’t matter if you improperly applied for and received $215 or $15,000; we’re going to come after you,” Schroder added. “Wrong is wrong. No exceptions. We will get the taxpayers’ money back.”

Schroder pointed to aggressive efforts by the Department of Treasury and Office of the Inspector General as leading to the recovery of more than $34,000 recently thanks to the two agencies’ collaboration with the 19th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The state received restitution payments from three individuals who opted to participate in the Pre-Trial Intervention Program conducted through the district attorney’s office.

“There should be no such thing as an ‘acceptable fraud rate allowance’ for ANY government program,” said Schroder, whose department was charged with MSRP oversight. “Every state agency charged to serve as stewards of the public’s finances should be required to work with law enforcement agencies to aggressively seek out and prosecute those who have committed fraud in order to obtain justice and restitution. It’s that simple.”

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office determined MRSP’s initial fraud rate of 1.32 percent fell significantly below the national average for similar programs, which run at an average of 15.2 percent.

“MSRP was meant to help small businesses that needed a lifeline to stay afloat during the pandemic. It wasn’t supposed to line people’s pockets,” said Schroder. “We won’t stop until all fraud is eliminated.”

Earlier this year five additional individuals were indicted on charges of MSRP government benefits fraud and computer fraud and theft, all felonies. Arrest warrants have been issued for all defendants and hearings are set.

MSRP dispensed $262M to businesses suffering from pandemic-related operating losses across Louisiana in an average timeframe from application submission to award disbursement of 46.38 days. Over $160M, more than four times the amount required by law, was administered to minority and military small business owners.

There were 20,751 grants awarded with an average of $12,675 per business awarded. The program exceeded expectations laid out in statute with 70 percent of businesses receiving grants allotted the maximum $15,000 award amount.


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