NEW ORLEANS – US Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that STACEY V. SANTEMORE, SR.46, formerly of New Orleans but now a resident of Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty on April 27, 2022 before U.S. District Court Judge Jay C. Zainey to a two-count information statement accusing him of false statements and theft of government funds related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020 to provide emergency financial assistance related to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the sources of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of up to $349 billion in small business forgivable loans for job retention and certain other expenses, through the PPP. . The PPP allows small businesses and other eligible organizations to receive loans with a term of two years and an interest rate of 1%. PPP loan proceeds are to be used by businesses for payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent and utilities. PPP allows for the interest and principal of the PPP loan to be forgiven if the business spends the loan proceeds on these expenses within a specified time after receiving the proceeds and uses at least a certain percentage of the PPP loan proceeds on the expenses. wages. . In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional PPP funding.
Additionally, the CARES Act created a temporary federal unemployment insurance program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) after a major disaster declaration for this funding. The PUA, administered by the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC), provided unemployment insurance benefits to people who are not eligible for other types of unemployment benefits (e.g., self-employed, independent contractors or workers in the gig economy).
According to the charging documents, SANTEMOREin July 2020, made false statements to the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) in an attempt to fraudulently obtain federally funded pandemic relief loans, including PPP funds, that he received for an amount of approximately $89,000 on July 14, 2020.
SANTEMORE also applied for unemployment benefits in Louisiana through the LWC with PUA funding although he was at all times fully employed by Amtrak, the national passenger railcar company. Through this theft of government funds, he got around $22,000 from April 2020 to March 2021.
SANTEMORE faces up to five years in prison, up to $250,000 in fines and up to three years of probation for making false statements. He faces up to ten years in prison, up to $250,000 in fines and up to three years of probation for the theft leader. There is also a mandatory special assessment fee of $100 per count. Sentencing before U.S. District Court Judge Zainey will take place on July 26, 2022.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
For more information on the Department of Justice’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus. Anyone with information about alleged 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 online complaint form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
U.S. Attorney Evans commended the work of the Amtrak Office of Inspector General – Criminal Investigations and the Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General in investigating this matter. Assistant US Attorney Edward J. Rivera is in charge of the prosecution.