Philadelphia Man Pleads Guilty to Stealing Nearly $1 Million in PPP Funds
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Devron Brown, 50, formerly of Philadelphia, PA, pleaded guilty before United States District Court Judge Chad F. Kenney for his involvement in a scheme to unlawfully obtain and misuse loan proceeds offered through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).
In June 2021, the defendant was indicted on eleven felony counts: two counts of bank fraud and attempted bank fraud, and nine counts of money laundering for fraudulently obtaining approximately $937,500 in PPP loan proceeds by making false representations regarding his alleged construction business, Just Us Construction, Inc. Brown made multiple false characterizations about the business, 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. Brown then 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 caused a second fraudulent PPP loan application to be submitted for approximately the same amount in early 2021, but that application was denied. Following his arrest on the indicted charges, Brown failed to appear in court as required and absconded as a fugitive, in violation of the terms of his pretrial release. He was apprehended by authorities and returned to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania earlier this year to face the charges against him.
“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 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. Here, the defendant fraudulently obtained nearly $1 million in funds that could have helped struggling businesses and individuals, and instead spent the money on indulgences for himself.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of the Inspector General, with assistance from the United States Marshals Service, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Deal.