Six People Charged with Fraudulently Obtaining Loans Meant To Help Small Businesses During COVID-19 Pandemic
NEWARK, N.J. – Six Essex County, New Jersey, residents were arrested today for scheming to fraudulently obtain Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Nyan Terry, aka “Racks,” 23, of Irvington; Samir Jefferson, aka “Tank Jeffe,” 23, of Newark; and Nasir Williams, aka “Harlem Pete,” 29, Hymeen Reynolds, aka “Meen,” 21, Brian Brown, aka “Bizz,” 40, and Cadece Lapread, 35, all of East Orange, are each charged by complaint with one count of bank fraud. Terry, Reynolds, Brown, Lapread, and Jefferson are also charged with one count each of bank fraud conspiracy. The defendants made their initial appearances today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jessica S. Allen.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted in March 2020 and was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of hundreds of billions of dollars in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses, through the PPP.
To obtain a PPP loan, a qualifying small business was required to apply and provide information on its operations, including the number of employees and expenses. In addition, businesses generally had to provide supporting documentation.
In April and May 2021, Terry, Jefferson, Williams, Reynolds, Brown, and Lapread schemed to defraud PPP lenders by submitting fraudulent PPP loan applications in the names of nonexistent small businesses, along with forged tax forms. Based on the defendants’ misrepresentations, lenders approved at least three fraudulent PPP loans and disbursed more than $62,000 in federal COVID-19 emergency relief funds.
The counts of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy each carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jesse Levine in Newark; special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina in Newark; and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Tammy Tomlins, with the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked the Bloomfield Police Department, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Newark Department of Public Safety for their assistance in the investigation.
The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Shaughnessy and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah A. Sulkowski of the U.S. Attorney’s Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.