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Case Number: 3:23-cr-00082
Judge: Daniel P. Jordan, III
Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi (Hinds County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Jackson
Description: Jackson, Mississippi criminal defense lawyer represented the Defendant charged with wire fraud in connection with his submission of a false COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) application.
Wesley Murray, Sr., 54, submitted to the United States Small Business Association (“SBA”) a false EIDL application containing material misrepresentations. In reliance on his certification that he would use the EIDL funds for business purposes, the SBA awarded Murray approximately $72,400 in COVID-19 relief funds. Murray acknowledged that he used these funds for purely personal expenses. Pursuant to the terms of his plea agreement with the United States, Murray agreed to make full restitution to the SBA.
Murray is scheduled to be sentenced on January 10, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney Todd W. Gee of the Southern District of Mississippi and Acting Inspector General Stephen Ravas of the AmeriCorps Office of Inspector General made the announcement.
The case was investigated by the AmeriCorps Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly T. Purdie.
"False COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Application Law
The COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program was created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide financial assistance to small businesses and nonprofits that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program offers loans of up to $2 million to eligible businesses and nonprofits, which can be used to cover payroll, operating expenses, and other financial obligations.
To qualify for a COVID-19 EIDL loan, businesses and nonprofits must submit a loan application to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The loan application requires businesses and nonprofits to provide information about their business, their financial history, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their business.
It is a crime to submit a false COVID-19 EIDL loan application. The penalties for COVID-19 EIDL fraud can include:
Up to 30 years in prison
Up to $1 million in fines
Both prison and fines
The SBA takes COVID-19 EIDL fraud very seriously, and it is actively investigating and prosecuting fraudulent loan applications. If you are convicted of COVID-19 EIDL fraud, you could also be required to repay the loan in full, even if you have already spent the money.
Examples of False COVID-19 EIDL Loan Applications
Here are some examples of false COVID-19 EIDL loan applications:
Submitting an application for a business that does not exist
Inflating the number of employees or the amount of revenue generated by a business
Lying about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a business
Using false or stolen identities to apply for a loan
Using a loan for purposes other than those allowed by the SBA
How to Avoid Submitting a False COVID-19 EIDL Loan Application
If you are considering applying for a COVID-19 EIDL loan, it is important to make sure that you are eligible for the loan and that you are providing accurate information on your loan application. Here are some tips to help you avoid submitting a false COVID-19 EIDL loan application:
Review the SBA's eligibility requirements carefully before you apply for a loan.
Be honest and accurate on your loan application.
Do not inflate your business's revenue or number of employees.
Do not lie about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your business.
Do not use false or stolen identities to apply for a loan.
Use the loan funds for the purposes allowed by the SBA.
If you have any questions about the COVID-19 EIDL loan program or the loan application process, you should contact the SBA for assistance."
Outcome: Defendant elected to plead guilty.