18 Pennsylvania Prison Inmates and Accomplices Charged with Fraudulently Obtaining Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Funds
PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Devron Brown, 50, formerly of Philadelphia, PA, was arrested and charged by Indictment with two counts of bank fraud and nine counts of money laundering in connection with an alleged scheme to unlawfully obtain and misuse loan proceeds offered through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).
The Indictment alleges that, in June 2020, the defendant fraudulently obtained approximately $937,500 in PPP loan proceeds, pursuant to a PPP loan application that contained false representations regarding his alleged construction business, Just Us Construction Inc. According to the Indictment, Brown allegedly made multiple false characterizations about Just Us Construction, including the number of employees, the wages paid to them, the payroll taxes paid on those wages, and the intended use of the PPP loan proceeds. It is also alleged that Brown used those PPP loan proceeds for personal and unauthorized purchases, including a new residential property in Florida, a motorcycle, an all-terrain vehicle, a luxury automobile, and diamond jewelry. The defendant also allegedly caused a second fraudulent PPP loan application to be submitted for approximately the same amount in early 2021, but that application was denied.
“Paycheck Protection Program funds are intended to help American small-businesses continue paying their employees, even if revenues have dropped dramatically due to the pandemic,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “Thieves who attempt to take these funds are taking advantage of others’ misfortune – ripping them off while also ripping off all taxpayers who fund the program. As alleged, Brown fraudulently obtained nearly $1 million in funds that could have helped struggling businesses and individuals.”
“The Paycheck Protection Program was created to provide emergency financial assistance to businesses and employees battered by the pandemic,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Unfortunately, criminal opportunists with dollar signs in their eyes promptly got to work trying to defraud the federal government by seeking a cut of the funds. The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue those using the money from the PPP to bankroll their own lavish lifestyles at taxpayers’ expense.”
If convicted of all charges, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 150 years of imprisonment, three years of supervised release, a $4,250,000 fine, restitution, and an $1100 special assessment.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Deal.
An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
615 Chestnut Street, Suite 1250
Philadelphia, PA 19106
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