Las Vegas Man Pleads Guilty To Committing COVID Relief Fraud While On Pretrial Release
LAS VEGAS – A Las Vegas man pleaded guilty yesterday to participating in a scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration and a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) lender while he was on pretrial release, by filing fraudulent loan applications seeking over $100,000 in loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
Keyawn Lloyd Cook Jr. (27) pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro scheduled sentencing for June 8, 2022. Cook faces a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
According to court documents and admissions made in court, Cook — while on pretrial release for an attempted robbery charge — submitted at least five fraudulent loan applications over a 15-month period for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funding and for PPP funding. As part of the fraudulent scheme, Cook submitted loan applications in the names of multiple fake businesses claiming to operate in various industries. Cook falsely claimed to have between nine and 12 employees in applications for EIDL funding and, in his PPP application, he falsely claimed gross revenues of $50,000 by a non-existent barber shop. In fact, these businesses were non-existent and had no such employees or revenue. Cook sought to fraudulently obtain over $100,000 in COVID relief funds for which he was not eligible.
In a separate case, Cook was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison for an attempted robbery of an armored car employee during a delivery to a bank in 2019.
Christopher Chiou, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada; W.M. Herrington, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office; Weston King, Special Agent in Charge of the Small Business Administration Office of the Inspector General’s (SBA OIG) Western Region Office; Albert Childress, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); and Cory Nootnagel, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Western Region, Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (FRB-OIG) made the announcement.
This case was investigated by the FBI, SBA OIG, IRS-CI, and FRB-OIG. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica Oliva and Kimberly Frayn are prosecuting the case.
In May 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.