In a press conference held today, U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown announced the indictment of 24 individuals associated with a Shreveport street gang on charges related to CARES Act fraud. The defendants are accused of exploiting the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to fraudulently obtain loans and financial assistance intended to provide relief to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This indictment highlights the collaboration between federal and state partners in prosecuting criminal activity and striving to eradicate violence while addressing the pressing issue of CARES Act fraud. If convicted, the defendants could face severe penalties including prison time, supervised release, and substantial fines.
U.S. Attorney Announces Indictment of 24 Individuals on CARES Act Fraud Charges
Defendants Associated with Shreveport Street Gang
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Louisiana, has recently announced the indictment of 24 individuals on fraud charges related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These defendants are all members or associates of a Shreveport street gang known as Step or Die (SOD). The charges against them are associated with their illegal activities involving the CARES Act.
Background on the CARES Act
The CARES Act was enacted by Congress in March 2020 to provide emergency financial assistance to Americans affected by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Small Business Administration (SBA) played a crucial role in providing Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to small businesses, renters, and homeowners in regions affected by declared disasters. Additionally, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was established to provide forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and other expenses.
Loan Amounts and Charges of Defendants
The indicted defendants face various charges related to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Each defendant is associated with a specific loan amount and type. The loans involved range from PPP loans to EIDL loans. The U.S. Attorney’s Office aims to hold these defendants accountable for their illegal actions and bring them to justice.
Statement from U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown
U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown emphasizes the role of his office in prosecuting cases like this. He highlights the collaboration with state partners and the Department of Justice to combat violence and prioritize the investigation of CARES Act fraud. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to eradicating violence from communities and holding accountable those who break the law.
FBI’s Efforts to Disrupt Criminal Enterprises
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) plays a critical role in combating fraud and disrupting criminal enterprises. The FBI works hand in hand with its partners to investigate and prosecute individuals or groups who seek to exploit programs intended to provide aid during times of need. The FBI aims to ensure that those who commit fraud related to the CARES Act are thoroughly investigated and brought to justice.
Treasury Inspector General’s Commitment to Investigate Fraud
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is dedicated to investigating and bringing to justice those who defraud the American taxpayer. The focus is on individuals or entities that abuse federal programs designed to assist Americans in need. The Inspector General acknowledges the importance of collaboration with law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in achieving this goal.
Fugitive Alert: Roderguiz Henry
One of the defendants, Roderguiz Henry, is currently a fugitive. The U.S. Marshals Service is seeking information regarding his whereabouts. If you have any information about Roderguiz Henry, please contact the U.S. Marshals Service at 318-934-4300.
Presumption of Innocence and Potential Penalties
It is essential to remember that an indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendants in this case could face severe penalties, including up to 20 years in prison, 1 to 3 years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The legal process will determine the guilt or innocence of the defendants, and they will have the opportunity to present their defense.
Investigating and Prosecuting COVID-19 Fraud
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with law enforcement agencies, is fully committed to investigating and prosecuting cases of COVID-19 fraud. The COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force, established by the Attorney General, aims to prevent and combat fraudulent activities related to the pandemic. Through coordination, information sharing, and robust enforcement efforts, the task force works to uncover and prosecute those responsible for pandemic-related fraud.
How to Report Allegations of 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 online using the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form. Reporting potential fraud is crucial in ensuring that those who exploit federal programs are held accountable for their actions.
In conclusion, the indictment of 24 individuals associated with the Shreveport Street Gang on charges related to CARES Act fraud sends a clear message that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is dedicated to combating fraud and holding accountable those who break the law. The FBI, Treasury Inspector General, and other law enforcement partners are actively involved in investigating and disrupting criminal enterprises involved in fraudulent activities. The modern advancements in the reporting of fraud allegations provide individuals with a means to contribute to the collective effort in combating fraud. Together, through collaboration and the pursuit of justice, we can safeguard the integrity of federal programs and protect the American taxpayer.