Georgia man charged with fraud in looking for tens of millions of {dollars} in COVID-19 reduction funding | USAO-SDGA

SAVANNAH, GA:  A Georgia man has been indicted on a number of costs alleging his involvement because the chief in a conspiracy to fraudulently acquire federal COVID-19 pandemic reduction funding.

Bernard Okojie, 40, of McDonough, Ga., is charged in a newly unsealed indictment with Conspiracy to Commit Wire and Bank Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Money Laundering Conspiracy, stated David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The costs carry statutory penalties of as much as 30 years in jail, together with as much as $1 million in monetary penalties and as much as 5 years of supervised launch after completion of any jail time period. There isn’t any parole within the federal system.

“Congress provided funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act as a vital safety net for small businesses financially struggling during the global pandemic,” stated U.S. Attorney Estes. “Sadly, the significant amount of available funding also attracted those who sought to tap into those funds from greed rather than need.”

As alleged within the indictment, Okojie is alleged to have used info for non-existent firms to file fraudulent functions for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for himself and others from May 2020 by way of January of 2021, looking for tens of millions of {dollars} in COVID-19 reduction funds for himself and others. Okojie is alleged to have both obtained the funding instantly, or was paid by different recipients of the fraudulently obtained funding for his work in submitting the EIDL functions. Okojie is additional charged with conspiring to launder the fraudulent proceeds.

Okojie has appeared in U.S. District Court within the Northern District of Georgia for his preliminary look listening to, however might be prosecuted within the Southern District of Georgia.

Criminal indictments include solely costs; defendants are presumed harmless until and till confirmed responsible.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan A. Porter and Patrick J. Schwedler.

Anyone with details about allegations of tried 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 by way of the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

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