Mother, son plead guilty to $828,813 in Paycheck Protection Program fraud

(The Center Square) – A woman from St. Louis County pleaded guilty to federal fraud and theft charges after submitting false information to obtain a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.

Dionneshae Forland, 51, admitted to bank fraud, theft of government property, wire fraud and a scheme to fraudulently obtain $828,813 from the Missouri Business Small Business Grant Program and the PPP on Monday, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. This case follows another guilty plea by a St. Louis woman last month for admitting $291,000 in PPP fraud.

Earlier this month, the St. Louis Federal Reserve published research showing the Small Business Administration forgave 90% of the federal government’s $800 billion PPP loans.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Clow, a prosecutor in the case, released work by the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealing Forland gave false information on the number of employees and monthly payroll expenses of the companies she claimed needed help from January through May 2021. Forland also submitted fraudulent tax forms, bank statements, payroll records and employee lists.

Forland obtained four loans worth $592,235 for herself, a $150,000 loan for a company linked to her son, Dwayne Times, and two loans worth $36,600 for two people referred to her by her son. Her plea agreement stated she didn’t spend the money for federally approved purposes and instead spent it on personal expenses.

Forland submitted four fraudulent grant applications to the Missouri Small Business Grant Program in July 2020 but didn’t receive any funds. She succeeded in fraudulently obtaining a grant for a company by falsely stating it had been operating since 2017 and submitting false document and information about the number of employees and its payroll, according to the plea agreement.

A grant of $49,988 was deposited into Times’ a bank account. He withdrew $8,000 before the money was seized – “clawed back” – by officials due to possible fraud. Approximately $600,000 was clawed back from various accounts linked to Forland and Times.

Times is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 11 after pleading guilty to one count each of wire fraud and theft of government property. Forland will be sentenced on Oct. 12.

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