In a recent case, two residents of Laplace, Louisiana, have been charged with preparing and submitting fraudulent applications for financial assistance under the CARES Act. Lynn Schofield, 60, and Bashir Schofield, 23, allegedly conspired with another individual to file false loan applications in order to fraudulently obtain money from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster loans (EIDL). The applications misrepresented the existence and income of their businesses, and the funds were intended for personal use rather than business purposes. If convicted, Lynn Schofield faces up to five years in prison, while Bashir Schofield faces up to twenty years. These charges highlight the ongoing efforts to combat fraud related to the pandemic and ensure that financial assistance is properly allocated to those in need.
Charges and Defendants
LYNN SCHOFIELD’s charge
Lynn Schofield, aged 60 and resident of LaPlace, Louisiana, has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. This charge is in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371 and 1343. The charge is related to the preparation and filing of false loan applications in connection with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
BASHIR SCHOFIELD’s charge
Bashir Schofield, aged 23 and also a resident of LaPlace, Louisiana, has been charged with wire fraud. This charge is in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. The charge is also related to the preparation and filing of false loan applications under the CARES Act.
Submission of fraudulent applications
According to the bills of information, Lynn Schofield and Bashir Schofield worked together with another individual to submit fraudulent applications for financial assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and Economic Injury Disaster loans (EIDL). These applications were filed with the intention of obtaining money through fraudulent means.
Purpose of loan proceeds
The false loan applications submitted by Lynn Schofield and Bashir Schofield falsely represented that the loan proceeds were intended for business purposes. However, it was later discovered that the defendants intended to use the money for personal purposes instead.
Misrepresentation of business income
In addition to falsely representing the purpose of the loan proceeds, Lynn Schofield, Bashir Schofield, and the unnamed individual also misrepresented the business income generated by their sole proprietorship. They overinflated the gross receipts of the business in order to obtain a larger loan amount.
Penalties for LYNN SCHOFIELD
If convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Lynn Schofield could face a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, up to three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, and a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.
Penalties for BASHIR SCHOFIELD
If convicted of wire fraud, Bashir Schofield could face a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years, up to three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, and a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.
Bill of Information
Explanation of a bill of information
A bill of information is a document filed by the United States Attorney’s Office that formally charges an individual with a criminal offense. It is an alternative to an indictment and is typically used for less serious offenses. In this case, Lynn Schofield was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and Bashir Schofield was charged with wire fraud through a bill of information.
Burden of proof
It is important to note that a bill of information is simply a charge and does not imply guilt. The defendants, Lynn Schofield and Bashir Schofield, are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution to present evidence that establishes the guilt of the defendants.
COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force
Establishment and purpose of the task force
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was created to bring together the resources of the Department of Justice and various government agencies to combat and prevent fraud related to the pandemic. It aims to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in pandemic-related fraud schemes and to prevent fraud in relief programs.
Contact information for reporting fraud
If you have any information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it to the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721. Alternatively, you can submit a complaint through the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Praise for the FBI’s work
U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in investigating the case involving Lynn Schofield and Bashir Schofield. The FBI played a crucial role in uncovering the fraudulent activities and gathering the necessary evidence to support the charges against the defendants.
Responsibility of Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg
The prosecution of Lynn Schofield and Bashir Schofield is being led by Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg, who serves as the Chief of the Public Integrity Unit. As the lead prosecutor in this case, Ginsberg is responsible for presenting the evidence and building a strong case against the defendants. The ultimate goal is to prove the guilt of the defendants beyond a reasonable doubt and secure a conviction.