Three Chicago-Area Residents Charged with COVID-Relief Fraud
CHICAGO – Three Chicago-area residents have been indicted on federal charges for allegedly fraudulently obtaining more than $2.75 million in small business loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act.
SAMUEL W. JACKSON, DAVID L. SULLIVAN II, and ELIZABETH A. CHERVINKO engaged in fraud related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) – two sources of relief under the CARES Act, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday in the Northern District of Illinois. The indictment charges Jackson, 42, of Chicago, with five counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering, while Sullivan, 49, of Naperville, Ill., and Chervinko, 41, of Chicago, are each charged with one count of wire fraud.
Jackson pleaded not guilty Tuesday during his arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sunil R. Harjani. Arraignments for Sullivan and Chervinko are set for Aug. 17, 2022, at 1:30 p.m., before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; and Hannibal Ware, Inspector General of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher K. Veatch and Megan Donohue.
Pursuant to the CARES Act, a PPP loan allows the interest and principal to be forgiven if businesses spend a certain amount of the proceeds on essential expenses, such as payroll, rent, and utilities, while the EIDL provides loan assistance or grants to cover working capital and other operating expenses.
According to the indictment, the defendants in the spring and summer of 2020 submitted fraudulent applications and supporting documents to lenders, loan service providers, and the SBA, in their own names and in the names of related corporate entities, including three Montana-based companies – Dream Builder LLC, Ordained Destination LLC, and Ordained Real Estate LLC – and two Illinois-based companies – Top Flight Real Estate LLC and Tips @ 170 Inc. The applications and supporting documents contained materially false representations about the defendants’ companies, including the number of purported employees, revenue and payroll amounts, and other expenses, the indictment states.
The indictment alleges that the defendants defrauded lenders of approximately $2.49 million in PPP loans and defrauded the SBA of approximately $256,500 in EIDL funds. Much of the money was allegedly used for the defendants’ personal benefit, including the purchase of real estate and the lease and purchase of luxury automobiles.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Each wire fraud charge is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, while the maximum penalty for each count of money laundering is ten years. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
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 an online complaint at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.