A Louisiana man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for money laundering related to a fraudulent scheme involving Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) loans.

The scheme

According to court documents, Michael Ansezell Tolliver filed nine fraudulent PPP and EIDL loan applications for various purported companies owned by Tolliver, including Tolliver Oil & Gas Corporation of Louisiana Inc. and Tolliver Petroleum Corporation of Louisiana.

In his PPP application, Tolliver certified that the funds would be used “to retain workers and maintain payroll.” Tolliver falsely stated that the company had 108 employees and that its average monthly payroll was $265,889.60; he also filed a fake IRS Form 940. However, the truth was that Tolliver Oil & Gas had no employees and no monthly payroll expenses.

the take

According to prosecutors, Tolliver had sought more than $7.6 million in PPP and EIDL Program loans. In the end, he got over $1.1 million.

“Mr. Tolliver chose greed over compassion by fraudulently obtaining funds from PPP and EIDL programs established to help employers severely impacted by the pandemic,” said Special Agent in Charge James E. Dorsey of the field office. of IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Atlanta: “Tolliver’s ruling today should be a warning to those who fraudulently received or may have fraudulently attempted to receive funds intended to help businesses during the COVID epidemic The IRS-CI and the SBA investigated the case.

The charges

Tolliver was initially loaded with two counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. In December 2022, Tolliver pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering. On May 2, 2023, Tolliver was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $1,114,724 in restitution.

“Today’s significant ruling demonstrates that those who steal from COVID-19 relief programs for personal gain will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. . “We remain committed to rooting out the bad guys who have taken advantage of federal programs meant to help small businesses that really need it.”

How did you spend the money?

Tolliver laundered the proceeds from the loan by transferring the funds to personal bank accounts and buying luxury items. Authorities seized approximately $128,500 from bank accounts, as well as a 2020 Cadillac CT5 sedan, a 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck, two Tissot watches, two Tag Heuer watches and three Honda ATVs.

“This defendant stole more than $1 million through fraudulent means and used those funds to support his own personal lifestyle, taking from those whose legitimate businesses suffered losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said US Attorney Brandon B. Brown for Western District of Louisiana. “Federal programs like these are set up to help those in need, not to benefit scammers. It is a priority for our office to prosecute those who obtain these benefits illegally. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section to aggressively investigate similar crimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

fraud reporting

Since the inception of the CARES Act, the Justice Department’s Fraud Section has prosecuted more than 200 defendants in more than 130 criminal cases and has seized more than $78 million in cash, extensive real estate, and luxury items purchased with profits derived from fraudulent activities. obtained PPP funds.

The IRS-CI and law enforcement often rely on taxpayer input to initiate and strengthen investigations. If you have information about allegations of attempted fraud related to COVID-19, you may report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or using the NCDF Complaints Web Form.

MORE FROM FORBESIRS criminal investigation arm continues to pursue Covid-related fraud

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