Charlotte Behavioral Health Services Provider Is Indicted For Defrauding The South Carolina Medicaid Program And COVID-19 Relief Fraud
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Evan Agustin Perez, 35, of Charlotte, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud conspiracy for obtaining approximately $720,000 in fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Relief Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program loans, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
According to the information to which Perez pleaded guilty, other documents filed in this case and statements made in court, from April 2020 to September 2021, Perez conspired with Edward Whitaker and others in a scheme to defraud the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and SBA-backed lenders by obtaining fraudulent COVID-19 disaster relief funds for businesses he controlled or was affiliated with, including Augie’s Wish Foundation, EMP Haircare, LLC, E.M.P. Enterprises, LLC, T.O.P. Salon Suites Inc., Touch of Precision School of Barbering, Inc., Touch of Precision Barber Lounge, LLC, and Roads to Success Early Learning Center, LLC.
Court documents show that Perez, Whitaker, and others submitted PPP and EIDL loan applications and supporting documents that contained false and fraudulent information regarding Perez’s businesses’ income, number of employees, gross revenues, and expenses. As a result of the fraudulent loan applications, the co-conspirators received approximately $720,000 in disaster relief funds. In furtherance of the scheme, Perez, Whitaker, and other co-conspirators subsequently submitted forgiveness applications for certain PPP loans that also contained fabricated information.
In January 2023, Whitaker pleaded guilty in federal court in the Eastern District of North Carolina to money laundering conspiracy for his role in a multi-million fraud scheme assisting individuals with obtaining fraudulent coronavirus disaster relief funds.
Perez was released on bond after his plea hearing. The maximum statutory penalty for the wire fraud conspiracy offense is five years in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.
The SBA Office of Inspector General investigated the case. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric A. Frick and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Ryan are in charge of the prosecution.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 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 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 (NCDF) Hotline at 866‑720‑5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.