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Press Release

El Sobrante Resident Charged With Fraudulently Obtaining More Than $1.1 Million In Pandemic-Relief Funds In 2020 And 2021

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Defendant Misused PPP and EIDL Funds to Pay Off His Personal Debts and Enrich Himself

OAKLAND – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging a Contra Costa County man with wire fraud and other crimes relating to a scheme in which he fraudulently obtained more than $1.1 million in government-backed COVID-19 relief funds, announced United States Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey; Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp; and Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Special Agent in Charge Weston King of the Western Region.

According to the indictment filed this week, Lane Jenkins, 53, of El Sobrante, California, was president of a company called A & L Investments LLC (A&L), which was founded in 2016, headquartered in El Sobrante, and purported to purchase, renovate, and sell distressed properties. The indictment alleges that, in February 2021 and April 2021, Jenkins applied for and received two Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans totaling more than $1 million on the basis of false and fraudulent representations that A&L had dozens of employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly payroll expenses. In fact, A&L had zero employees and no monthly payroll. In December 2021, Jenkins applied for and received forgiveness of the first of those two loans, falsely certifying he had used the PPP funds to make payroll for A&L’s nonexistent employees. In fact, Jenkins had used the money for personal expenses and to pay off personal debts.

The indictment also states that, in July 2020, Jenkins applied for and received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) of nearly $95,000 for a maid and cleaning service he said he operated as a sole proprietor. The application falsely stated that Jenkins had 10 employees and gross revenues of $241,353. In fact, he had no employees and no revenues. Rather than use the EIDL funds he received on approved business expenses, Jenkins used that money to enrich himself.

The PPP was administered by the SBA as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a federal law enacted in March 2020 to provide billions of dollars in emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The PPP provided forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other qualified business expenses. PPP funds were disbursed by SBA-approved third-party lenders.

The EIDL program is also administered by the SBA. It provides low-interest financing to small businesses, renters, and homeowners in regions affected by declared disasters. As relevant here, the CARES Act authorized the SBA to make EIDL loans of up to $2 million to eligible small businesses experiencing substantial financial disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. EIDL funds are disbursed directly by the SBA.

The Indictment charges three counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and one count of submitting false writings to a government agency, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(3).

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Jenkins faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison on each of the three counts of wire fraud and a maximum statutory sentence of 5 years in prison on the fourth count, which charges him with submitting false writings to a government agency. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Jenkins has not yet appeared in court to face the charges against him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Chambers is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and SBA-OIG.

Updated June 13, 2024