Shreveport Business Owner Found Guilty of Making False Statements to the Federal Aviation Administration
SHREVEPORT, La. - United States Attorney Brandon B. Brown announced that Cortez L. Brown, 33, of Haynesville, Louisiana, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on numerous charges, including threatening to unlawfully damage and destroy buildings in Sarepta and Springhill, Louisiana. Brown is charged in the indictment with four counts of wire fraud, two counts of theft of government money, and five counts of making explosive threats.
On March 27, 2020 the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act which was meant to mitigate the economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and created the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. The FPUC program was intended to increase benefits for individuals who were unemployed and gave them an extra $600 each week in addition to their regular unemployment benefits. The FPUC program was administered by the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC).
The indictment alleges that on or about May 10, 2020 Brown applied for unemployment benefits to the LWC through its online portal and in his application falsely stated that he was “not working” when in truth and in fact, he was employed and receiving wages from two jobs. The LWC approved Brown’s application and issued a debit card for the unemployment benefits to him.
The indictment further alleges that Brown used the debit card, which was funded with unemployment benefits, to purchase, among other things, a cellular telephone which he used to send bomb threats to his employers, a factory in Sarepta, and a restaurant in Springhill.
An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted, Brown faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the wire fraud counts, not more than 10 years in prison on the theft of government money and explosive threat counts, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, Louisiana Workforce Commission, Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office and Springhill Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Leon H. Whitten.
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