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Press Release

Peoria, Illinois, Man Sentenced to Three Years of Probation for Paycheck Protection Program Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of Illinois

PEORIA, Ill. – A Peoria, Illinois, man, Andre K. Johnson, 25, was sentenced on October 30, 2023, to three years of probation for making false statements related to the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). United States District Judge James E. Shadid also ordered Johnson to pay restitution in the amount of $30,586.05 and to serve six months of home detention.

The PPP provided federal funds to small businesses that were directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs, rent, utilities and mortgage interest. The program was implemented by the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) and administered by third-party lenders. The PPP was enacted via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, an economic bill that passed in March 2020 in response to the economic fallout caused by the pandemic.

Johnson was indicted in March 2023 and pleaded guilty in June 2023 to one count of making a false statement to obtain a PPP loan. From May 2020 to September 2021, Johnson fraudulently obtained PPP funds to which he was not entitled by submitting a false PPP application, as well as a fraudulent PPP loan forgiveness application. Johnson claimed to be a self-employed individual who was the sole proprietor of an alleged jewelry and watch wholesale store with a taxable gross income of $100,000 on his loan application. He was held responsible for losses to the SBA of $23,410.05 and Harvest Small Business Finance LLC, in the amount of $7,176.00.

In addition to the fraudulent PPP loan, Johnson fraudulently tried to obtain over $26,000 in unemployment benefits from the states of Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and California.

The statutory penalties for making a false statement are up to five years imprisonment, a possible $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release.

The Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Springfield Field Office, investigated the case.  Criminal Chief Darilynn J. Knauss represented the government in the prosecution.

Updated October 31, 2023

Financial Fraud