LOS ANGELES – A Riverside County man who purported to own a pothole-repair company was found guilty by a federal jury today of fraud charges for using hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for personal expenses such as luxury cars after he obtained a PPP loan for more than $7 million on behalf of his business.
Oumar Sissoko, 59, of Temecula, was found guilty of four counts of wire fraud.
According to evidence presented at his three-day trial, Sissoko obtained a $7.25 million loan for his downtown Los Angeles-based company, Road Doctor California LLC, after submitting a PPP loan application in April 2020.
In the loan application, Sissoko claimed that Road Doctor was in the process of hiring 450 full-time employees and would have average monthly payroll expenses of $2.9 million. When he applied for the loan, Sissoko acknowledged the funds would be used to retain workers and maintain payroll, or make mortgage interest payments, lease payments and utility payments.
In the days after the PPP loan was funded on May 1, 2020, Sissoko misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars of the loan proceeds to use for impermissible purposes, including purchasing a Mercedes-Benz for $113,000, paying off a loan on a BMW, and buying an Apple computer for more than $5,000.
The illegal uses of the loan also included a non-refundable down payment of approximately $100,000 to purchase a company located in New Hampshire and the attempted transmission of approximately $150,000 to accounts in the African nation of Mauritania associated with a mineral-exploration company for which Sissoko purported to serve as CEO.
United States District Judge John F. Walter has scheduled a July 18 sentencing hearing, at which time Sissoko will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each of the four wire fraud counts.
Last month, a federal jury deadlocked on the charges against Sissoko and a mistrial was declared. The second trial resulted in today’s verdict.
The FBI, the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Office of Inspector General investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Carolyn S. Small of the Major Frauds Section and DOJ Trial Attorney Jason Covert of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting this case. Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan S. Galatzan, Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Section, is providing substantial assistance, including with the seizure and forfeiture of two luxury automobiles purchased with PPP loan funds.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted in March 2020 and is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses, through the PPP. In April 2020, Congress authorized more than $300 billion in additional PPP funding.
Anyone with general information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Justice Department’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at (866) 720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.