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Press Release

Leesburg man pleads guilty to COVID relief fraud scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Leesburg man pleaded guilty today to wire fraud for his scheme to defraud a federal COVID-19 relief plan.

According to court documents, Russell Laraway, 56, an Army Reserve officer, incorporated two business entities in Virginia that he purported to operate out of his home in Leesburg: Loudoun Innovation LLC (“LI LLC”) and Commonwealth Commerce LLC (“CC LLC”). Beginning in April 2020, Laraway submitted loan applications through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a COVID-19 relief program that was intended to provide loans backed by the Small Business Administration to certain businesses, nonprofit organizations, and other entities to help them retain their employees or stay afloat during the pandemic. In his applications, Laraway inflated the numbers of people his business entities employed and falsified payroll expenses and revenues for each company.

Laraway sought loan forgiveness for some of the PPP loans by falsely certifying that the PPP money had been used solely for payroll or other authorized purposes, while he actually intended to use the money to engage in spurious investment ventures and pay off personal debts. Laraway fraudulently received two PPP loans for LI LLC and two PPP loans for CC LLC. The four PPP loans totaled approximately $488,952, some of which Laraway paid to foreign entities in scams of which he was a victim.

Laraway is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Christopher Dillard, Special Agent in Charge for the Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s Mid-Atlantic Field Office; and David J. Scott, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office's Criminal and Cyber Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Patricia Tolliver Giles accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine E. Rumbaugh for the Eastern District of Virginia is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:24-cr-44.


Press Officer

Updated March 6, 2024

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