JACKSONVILLE, FL –United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Deconna Burke (34, Jacksonville) has pleaded guilty to wire fraud involving COVID Relief Fraud through the Paycheck Protection Program. Burke faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and payment of restitution to the United States government. No sentencing date has been set.
According to court documents, in April 2021, Burke submitted a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application to a lender authorized by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to lend funds for approved PPP loan applications. The PPP loan application falsely claimed that Burke operated his own babysitting business with a gross income of $98,000. Throughout the loan application, Burke made multiple false statements regarding his purported payroll and operating expenses. In support of his PPP loan application, Burke submitted a false IRS Form 1040 “Profit or Loss From Business” that contained false statements about operating expenses, gross income, and wage expenditures for his purported business. In reliance on the false statements in his PPP loan application and supporting documentation, Burke received a PPP loan in the amount of $20,415. After receiving the PPP loan proceeds into his bank account, Burke began making withdrawals and spending it on personal expenses, including paying off a loan for a motorcycle. In November 2021, Burke filed a PPP Loan Forgiveness Application, falsely stating that he spent the $20,415 on payroll. In reliance on his false statements the SBA forgave the entire loan amount.
This case was investigated by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the United States Secret Service – Jacksonville Field Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin C. Frein. The asset forfeiture is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Mai Tran.
In May 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866‑720‑5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.