Grand Jury Issues Superseding Indictment in $2.9 million dollar Paycheck Protection Program Fraud and Clean Air Act Conspiracy
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri
ST. LOUIS – A federal grand jury has issued a superseding indictment charging Chris Carroll with multiple counts of bank fraud, money laundering, making false statements to a financial institution, conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act, violations of the Clean Air Act, and witness tampering. The federal grand jury also indicted the company run by Chris Carroll, Whiskey Dix Big Truck Repair, with twenty-one counts of violating the Clean Air Act.
The superseding indictment charges Chris Carroll with three counts of bank fraud, six counts of money laundering, and three counts of making false statements of a financial institution in connection with Carroll’s company, Square One Group’s, receipt of two fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, one in the amount of more than $1.2 million, and the second loan in the amount of more than $1.6 million.
The superseding indictment alleges that Carroll and his business partner, George Reed, submitted PPP loan applications in their spouses’ names, rather than their own names, to misrepresent and conceal Carroll’s status as a paroled felon, which would have precluded his company from receiving PPP funds. It is further alleged, that Carroll and Reed did not use the funds to compensate their employees, but instead, used the funds to start a trucking company called Whiskey Dix Big Truck Repair, and to fund $660,000 in payments to themselves. The superseding indictment further alleges that the company suspended their employees’ pay and health insurance coverage after applying for PPP funds.
The superseding indictment further alleges that Carroll and his company, Whiskey Dix Big Truck Repair, violated the Clean Air Act by unlawfully removing the emissions control systems from more than 30 diesel-fueled trucks, which caused the trucks to release between 30 and 300 more pollutants into the atmosphere. The superseding indictment also alleges that Chris Carroll asked his employees to take the fall for the Clean Air Act violations, and when one of the employees indicated that he was going to talk to federal investigators, Chris Carroll threatened not to pay for the employee’s attorney.
"Square One Group received nearly $3,000,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds intended to sustain their workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis" said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Chris Crocker. "Instead, company owners Chris Carroll and George Reed allegedly used those funds to start new businesses and compensate themselves all while laying off the very staff for whom those funds were intended.”
“The defendants violated the Clean Air Act by removing devices designed specifically to reduce pollution on more than 20 heavy-duty diesel trucks,” said Special Agent in Charge Lance Ehrig of EPA’s criminal investigation program in Missouri. “Diesel exhaust not only worsens air quality, but harms people’s health, in particular people with respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD, so when these illegal trucks travel through neighborhoods they are creating serious health problems for residents.”
Charges set forth in the superseding indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gwendolyn Carroll and Matthew Drake are handling the case.
Updated June 8, 2023