Lake City Man Pleads Guilty To COVID Relief Fraud Involving Fraudulently Obtained Paycheck Protection Program Loan

Lake City Man Pleads Guilty To COVID Relief Fraud Involving Fraudulently Obtained Paycheck Protection Program Loan

Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Jacob Deandre Byrd (20, Lake City) has pleaded guilty to wire fraud involving COVID Relief Fraud through the Paycheck Protection Program. Byrd faces up to 20 years in federal prison and payment of restitution to the United States government. Byrd has agreed to forfeit $20,833, representing the proceeds of the offense.  

According to court documents, in April 2021, Byrd submitted a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application to a lender authorized by the Small Business Administration to lend funds for approved PPP loan applications. The PPP loan application falsely claimed that Byrd operated his own business, “Jacob’s Beauty.” Throughout the loan application Byrd made multiple false statements regarding his purported gross income and expenses associated with operating Jacob’s Beauty. In support of his PPP loan application, Byrd submitted a false IRS Form 1040 “Profit or Loss From Business” for Jacob’s Beauty. It contained false statements about operating expenses, gross income, and wage expenditures for his purported business. In truth, Jacob’s Beauty did not exist. In reliance on the false statements in his PPP loan application, the Small Business Administration funded a PPP loan for Jacob’s Beauty totaling $20,833. After receiving the PPP loan proceeds into his bank account, Byrd began making withdrawals and spending the funds on personal expenses.   

This case is being prosecuted as part the Department of Justice’s prosecution of fraud schemes that exploit the CARES Act relief programs. The CARES Act is a federal law enacted in March 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the two programs that were developed through CARES Act is the PPP. It provides funding to businesses through PPP loans for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. PPP allows the interest and principal on loans to be forgiven if the business spends proceeds on certain expense items within a designated time and uses a certain percentage of the loan on payroll expenses. The Department of Justice remains vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the crisis.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin C. Frein. The forfeiture is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Mai Tran.

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