CHICAGO — A man has been sentenced to more than five years in federal prison for illegally possessing a loaded handgun in Chicago and fraudulently obtaining a small business loan under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act.
TYJUAN LIGHTHALL illegally possessed the gun on Jan. 17, 2019, while riding in a vehicle in the Rogers Park neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side. The gun, which Lighthall had unlawfully purchased from an individual in Indiana for $400, was equipped with an extended magazine capable of holding more than fifteen rounds of ammunition. As a previously convicted felon, Lighthall was not legally allowed to possess a firearm.
Lighthall was free on bond in the firearm case when he engaged in the Covid-relief fraud. In April 2021, Lighthall applied for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program, which was a source of relief for small businesses under the CARES Act. A PPP loan allowed the interest and principal to be forgiven if businesses spend a certain amount of the loan on essential expenses, such as payroll, rent, and utilities. Lighthall fraudulently represented to a lender that he was the sole proprietor of a business called “Tyjaun Lighthall,” which purportedly did business under the name “Infinite 5 Creations LLC.” Lighthall submitted the fraudulent application knowing that this business did not exist. After the loan application was approved, the lender deposited $20,833 in Lighthall’s bank account.
Lighthall, 25, of Chicago, pleaded guilty earlier this year to a federal firearm charge and admitted in a plea agreement that he also engaged in the PPP fraud. U.S. District Judge Sara L. Ellis imposed a 63-month prison sentence on Sept. 1, 2022, after a hearing in federal court in Chicago.
The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Kristen de Tineo, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and Richard Eddington, Interim Chief of the Evanston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared C. Jodrey and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Niranjan Emani represented the government.
Holding illegal firearm possessors accountable through federal prosecution is a centerpiece of Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction strategy. In the Northern District of Illinois, U.S. Attorney Lausch and law enforcement partners have deployed the PSN program to attack a broad range of violent crime issues facing the district, particularly firearm offenses.
Anyone with information about attempted fraud involving Covid-19 is encouraged to report it to the Department of Justice by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or filing a complaint online at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.