GREENEVILLE, TN – On August 21, 2023, Chad B. Thomas, 41, of Blountville, Tennessee, was sentenced to 40 months imprisonment by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, United States District Judge, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville.
As part of the plea agreement filed with the court, Thomas agreed to plead guilty to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. Following his incarceration, Thomas will be on supervised release for three years. He was also ordered to repay $307,700 in restitution.
According to court records, in May and July 2020, Thomas submitted three fraudulent Payroll Protection Program (“PPP”) loan applications that included false information about payroll expenses and phony supporting documents. In the Spring of 2020, Congress had authorized the issuance of forgivable PPP loans to qualified businesses for use in paying authorized expenses as a legislative response to the COVID-19 pandemic through the CARES Act. Applicants completed and submitted loan applications that described historical payroll information and attached supporting documentation.
Thomas submitted three fraudulent PPP loan applications and obtained a total of $307,700 in fraudulent loan proceeds. As part of his scheme, Thomas submitted false payroll information and included fictitious supporting forms as part of his applications, including IRS forms.
For the final loan—a PPP loan in the amount of $207,500—on May 12, 2020, Thomas incorporated a business named Kingdom of God, Inc. as a religious organization with the Tennessee Secretary of State. On July 6, 2020, Thomas electronically submitted a fraudulent PPP loan application for Kingdom of God, Inc. to a lender in San Diego, California. Thomas falsely represented that the company had 26 employees and an average monthly payroll of $83,000. Thomas also included a monthly payroll journal that showed Thomas’ family members, minor children, and several nationally known religious figures were paid employees of Kingdom of God, Inc. Neither the state of Tennessee nor the IRS had any record of Kingdom of God, Inc. ever paying any employees. Kingdom of God, Inc. did no business and was ultimately dissolved by the Tennessee Secretary of State for failure to file reports. The San Diego lender approved the fraudulent loan application, and on July 14, 2020, deposited the sum of $207,500 into a Kingdom of God, Inc. bank account that Thomas had formed.
As part of the investigation, law enforcement seized and administratively forfeited the sum of $161,938.01 from bank accounts Thomas controlled.
U.S. Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III of the Eastern District of Tennessee; and Resident Agent in Charge Jason Brown of the United States Secret Service made the announcement.
The criminal indictment was the result of an investigation by the United States Secret Service. This investigation was led by Special Agents Kay Berry and Thomas Whitehead.
Assistant United States Attorney Mac D. Heavener III represented the United States.
On May 17, 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, among other methods, 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 https://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: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.