HOT SPRINGS MAN SENTENCED TO 27 MONTHS FOR PANDEMIC FUND FRAUD | USAO-WDAR
Hot Springs, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that on May 26, 2022, James Heritage, 39 of Hot Springs, Arkansas, was sentenced to 27 months in prison and ordered to pay $469,082.73 in restitution after he pleaded guilty to two counts related to fraud against the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and numerous welfare administrators state unemployment.
According to plea documents in the case, Heritage applied for and received a PPP loan of $183,937.32, using falsified employee and payroll data. Additionally, Heritage applied for and received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an additional form of unemployment benefits, in thirty different states, by falsely reporting to those states’ benefits administrators that he was eligible for benefits. .
The Paycheck Protection Program and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program are both part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a federal law passed in March 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering from the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The case was investigated by the Department of Labor’s Office of the Investigator General, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Office of Small Inspector General’s enterprises. Assistant United States Attorney Hunter Bridges prosecuted the case for the United States.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about alleged 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 NCDF’s online complaint form at: https://www. .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.