CHICAGO — A federal grand jury in Chicago, Illinois, returned an indictment in February, which was unsealed on March 1, charging two suburban Chicago residents with a total of 15 counts of wire fraud for allegedly fraudulently obtaining at least $742,000 in small business loans and grants under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
According to the indictment, beginning around March 2020, and continuing until around March 2021, TE DORA BROWN, 43, of Palos Park, Illinois, and CHRISTOPHER SCOTT, 43, of Hazel Crest, Illinois, participated in a scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Brown is charged with 13 counts of wire fraud, and Scott is charged with 9 counts.
As part of the scheme, the indictment alleges the defendants submitted to the SBA numerous applications for loans on behalf of businesses and entities purportedly owned by the defendants. The applications are alleged to have contained materially false statements and misrepresentations concerning, among other things, the purported entities’ number of employees, gross revenues, payroll, operating expenses, type of business, and existence as companies with ongoing operations. The indictment alleges that Brown and Scott knew at the time that the fictitious entities through which they applied had no employees or payroll, and that they intended to use the loan funds for their personal use and benefit.
Brown and Scott were arraigned in federal court in Chicago on March 1, 2023, before Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole.
The indictment is announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Douglas Zloto, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the United States Secret Service. Substantial assistance was provided by the SBA-Office of Inspector General. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alejandro G. Ortega.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. sentencing guidelines.
Anyone with information about attempted fraud involving COVID-19 is encouraged to report it to the Department of Justice by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or filing an online complaint at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.