Five Charged in Connection with an over $4 Million Paycheck Protection Program Fraud Scheme

Five individuals were charged in an indictment with fraudulently obtaining more than $4 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and using those funds, in part, to purchase luxury vehicles.  Authorities have seized a Range Rover worth approximately $125,000, jewelry, over $120,000 in cash, and over $3 million from 10 bank accounts at the time of arrest.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak of the Northern District of Georgia; Special Agent in Charge Chris Hacker of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kupperbusch of the Small Business Association Office of Inspector General (SBA OIG) Eastern Region made the announcement.

Darrell Thomas, 34 of Johns Creek, Georgia, Andre Lee Gaines 66 of Dallas, Georgia, Kahlil Gibran Green Sr., 46, of Cleveland, Ohio, and Bern Benoit, 44, of Burbank, California, were charged in an indictment filed in the Northern District of Georgia with conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, false statements to a financial institution and money laundering.  Additionally, Carla Jackson, 52, of Tucker, Georgia was charged with money laundering.  Thomas, Gaines, and Jackson were arrested this morning and appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Russell G. Vineyard of the Northern District of Georgia.

The indictment alleges that Thomas, Gaines, Green, and Benoit submitted, or assisted in the submission of, PPP loan applications on behalf of five businesses – Bellator Phront Group Inc. (owned by Thomas), Gaines Reservation and Travel LLC (owned by Gaines), Impact Creations LLC (owned by Green), Transportation Management Services, Inc. (owned by Benoit), and Lee Operations LLC – seeking loans of approximately $800,000 for each company.  Thomas, Gaines, Green, and Benoit caused to be submitted fraudulent loan applications that made numerous false and misleading statements about the companies’ number of employees and payroll expenses.  The financial institutions approved and funded over $4 million in loans.

The indictment further alleges that shortly after receiving the PPP funds, Thomas, Gaines, Green, and Benoit transferred the money to secondary bank accounts, including an account controlled by Jackson.  After Jackson received the PPP funds, she further distributed the funds.  Additionally, Thomas purchased a 2018 Mercedes-Ben….

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