Texas Man Arrested for COVID-19 Relief Scheme
A Texas man was arrested today for allegedly fraudulently obtaining over $3.3 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
According to allegations in the indictment, Scott Jackson Davis, 46, of Harris County, fraudulently received over $3.3 million in PPP funds through three fraudulent PPP loan applications submitted to a financial institution. Davis submitted applications for three businesses which he claimed to represent: Skilled Trade Investments LP (STILP), Skilled Trade Staffing LLC (STS), and Skilled Trade Investments Group LLC (STIGP). Davis claimed that these businesses had numerous employees and significant payroll, when in fact, they had few if any employees and little to no payroll. Davis also claimed on the applications that he had not been convicted of a felony in the previous five years, when in fact he had pleaded guilty to felony wire fraud charges in the Southern District of Texas in April 2017. Davis spent a large portion of the PPP loan funds on private jet travel, real estate, and luxury vehicles.
Davis is charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering. The defendant is scheduled for his initial court appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christina A. Bryan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. If convicted, he faces a maximum total penalty of 30 years in prison for each count of bank fraud, 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud, and 10 years in prison for each count of money laundering. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Lowery for the Southern District of Texas; Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware of the SBA-Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG); Acting Assistant Director Jay Greenberg of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division; and Special Agent-in-Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office made the announcement.
The SBA-OIG and FBI’s Houston Field Office are investigating the case.
Trial Attorney Edward E. Emokpae of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Wakefield of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s prosecution of fraud schemes that exploit the PPP. Since the inception of the CARES Act, the Fraud Section has prosecuted over 150 defendants in more than 95 criminal cases and has seized over $75 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased with such proceeds. More information can be found at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/ppp-fraud.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’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.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.