Louisiana Man Pleads Guilty to Cares Act Fraud
NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that ERNEST X. TAYLOR, JR., of Laplace, LA, age 38, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Darrel James Papillion to two counts of making false statements related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
On March 27, 2020, The CARES Act became effective and established several new temporary programs and expanded 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, maintain payroll, and 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 the charging documents, TAYLOR made false statements to an approved lender on or about March 2, 2021, to fraudulently obtain 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 on July 15, 2016, in the Eastern District of Virginia, criminal matter no. 16-118, to conspiracy to commit federal student loan fraud in a stolen identity mail fraud scheme. TAYLOR thereafter received approximately $18,500 based upon the misrepresentations. 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 $18,500 for the second loan.
Sentencing will occur on March 26, 2024. TAYLOR faces up to five years in prison, up to $250,000 in fines, up to three years of supervised release, and a $100 mandatory special assessment fee for each false statements count.
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.
Community Outreach Coordinator
U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
Updated December 5, 2023