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Missourians plead guilty, sentenced to federal Paycheck Protection Program fraud

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(The Center Square) – A third person was sentenced in a pandemic fraud scheme and another pleaded guilty in a separate Paycheck Protection Program loan fraud case, according to the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Dominique Lowery, 32, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen Clark to 15 months in prison and ordered to repay $47,397 he stole in two fraud schemes late last week. Two other people admitted participating in bank fraud, a scheme to defraud the pandemic loan program, or both.

In April, Judge Clark sentenced Christopher Tatum, 37, to 51 months in prison and ordered him to repay $103,481. In January, Monique Howard, 39, was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to repay $115,267.

Lowery submitted a fraudulent application for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, a federal government program to assist businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lowery claimed he operated a sole proprietorship with a gross income of $104,196 in 2019 and received a $20,833 loan from the program. The loan was forgiven when Lowery falsely claimed $17,389 was used for payroll costs when he used it for personal expenses.

Lowery pleaded guilty to the felonies of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and access device fraud. Tatum pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of bank fraud, all felonies. Howard pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, bank fraud and mail fraud.

Charles Carbon, 37, pleaded guilty to federal charges involving fraudulently obtaining more than $42,000 from two pandemic loans and unemployment compensation that included additional pandemic funds.

Carbon pleaded guilty to bank fraud and wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig late last week.

Carbon applied for and received a $10,000 loan in June 2020. The loan was intended to help business owners struggling with pandemic-related business losses.

In Carbon’s plea agreement, he admitted lying about the existence of a business he claimed to own, its purpose, payroll, revenue and number of employees.

Carbon also fraudulently applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan in August 2020. Again, he lied about the existence, purpose and finances of a business and received an $18,800 loan.

Carbon also falsely claimed to be a self-employed event planner who didn’t work between March and August of 2020. He received $14,174 in unemployment benefits, including $300 per week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. Carbon lied about work he did in March and didn’t report the pandemic loans he received, according to court documents.

As part of Carbon’s plea agreement, he also admitted using four forged checks totaling $12,322.

No date for sentencing was announced. The bank fraud charge is punishable by up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine or both. The wire fraud charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both.

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