Since the CARES Act was enacted, Chilivis Grubman has reported on government efforts to curtail fraud related to COVID-19 relief funds provided by the CARES Act. Between 2020 and the early parts of 2021, the government frequently reported on its investigations related to COVID-19 relief fund fraud. In mid-to-late 2021, the government reported indictments and guilty pleas in COVID-19 relief fraud cases. From late 2021 to the present, the government has been reporting the sentencing of individuals that defrauded COVID-19 relief programs. And these sentencing reports are becoming more frequent. Such is the case for a 24-year-old Texas woman.
On April 7, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that Lola Shalewa Barbara Kasali of Houston, Texas was sentenced to federal prison for 5 years and 10 months (70 months) for defrauding a COVID-19 relief program. According to the press release, Ms. Kasali submitted two fraudulent PPP loan applications on behalf of her two companies. She sought over $3.8 million in PPP loan funds and received over $1.9 million in PPP loans. The government noted that the money Ms. Kasali received was seized.
According to the press release, Ms. Kasali engaged in acts frequently reported in other PPP schemes. Specifically, Ms. Kasali submitted fraudulent tax records and made misrepresentations related to the number of individuals she employed and the payroll expenses for her companies. Ms. Kasali’s scheme was investigated by several government agencies, including the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Small Business Administration. Ms. Kasali’s case makes clear the government’s continued willingness to engage in cross-agency collaborations in its enforcement efforts; such collaboration likely will continue.
Because of the government’s efforts, a federal jury found Ms. Kasali guilty of two counts of bank fraud and two counts of making false statements.
The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent both individuals and businesses in connection with government investigations and white-collar criminal prosecutions. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.