gavel

ATLANTA (CBS46) — Federal authorities announced 22 people, some from metro Atlanta, were arrested for an $11 million scheme involving the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office, the individuals arrested used the funds to purchase luxury vehicles, jewelry, and other personal items.

Officials said PPP loan applications allegedly filed by the accused reported that each business had between 59 and 69 employees and approximately $295,000 to $342,000 in average monthly payroll expenses. However, federal prosecutors said none of the businesses had employees or payroll expenses.

Prosecutors said some documents submitted with PPP loan applications had identical bank statements and W2 payroll spreadsheets.

Bank officials processed the defendant’s applications and deposited $5.5 million into an account controlled by Darrell Thomas. The money, according to authorities, was supposed to be used for rental payments and payroll.

“Based on the investigation, none of the companies allegedly engaged in any business-related transactions or used the PPP loan proceeds for any authorized purposes. Instead, the businesses used the funds for various personal expenses,” a U.S. Attorney spokesperson said in a statement.

Authorities seized nearly $4 million, four luxury vehicles, and several items of jewelry.

Officials said from April 2020 through August 2020, defendants in the massive scheme allegedly submitted, or assisted in the submission of, PPP loan applications on behalf of fourteen businesses, seeking loans of approximately $700,000 - $850,000 for each company:

PPP Fraud

On July 14, 2021, 14 people were charged in the massive scheme:

• Ricky Dixon, 52, of Warren, Michigan, is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, false statements to a federally insured financial institution, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering in connection with his involvement in the loan obtained by his business, RK Painting Co., and several other businesses’ loans.

Meghan Thomas, 32, of Alpharetta, Georgia, is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, and false statements to a federally insured financial institution in connection with her involvement in several businesses’ loans.

• Jesika Blakely, 34, of Atlanta, Georgia, is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, false statements to a federally insured financial institution, and money laundering in connection with her involvement in several businesses’ loans.

• Amanda Christian, 33, of Blythewood, South Carolina, is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, and false statements to a federally insured financial institution in connection with her involvement in the loan obtained by her business, Advertising and Then Some Inc., and several other businesses’ loans.

• Dwan Ashong a/k/a Dwan Gilpin, 40, of Jacksonville, Florida, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering in connection with her involvement in several businesses’ loans.

• John Gaines a/k/a Marty Gaines, 56, of Marietta, Georgia, is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, false statements to a federally insured financial institution, and money laundering in connection with the loan obtained by Gaines Reservation and Travel.

• Charles Petty a/k/a Charles Knight, 48, of Atlanta, Georgia, is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, false statements to a federally insured financial institution, and money laundering in connection with the loan obtained by Transportation Management Services Inc.

• Jerry Baptiste, 43, of College Park, Georgia, is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, false statements to a federally insured financial institution, and money laundering in connection with the loan obtained by Transportation Management Services Inc.

• Derek Parker, 56, of Rochester Hills, Michigan, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering in connection with the loan obtained by his business, D Parker Holdings Inc.

• David Belgrave II, 49, of Lexington, South Carolina, is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, false statements to a federally insured financial institution, and money laundering in connection with the loan obtained by his business, Continuing Success Inc.

• Charles Hill IV, 45, of Norcross, Georgia, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering in connection with the loan obtained by his business, Infinite Education Services Inc.

• Ryan Whittley, 35, of South Holland, Illinois, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering in connection with the loan obtained by his business, ML Exotic Customs Inc.

• El Hadj Sall, 39, of Jacksonville, Florida, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering in connection with the loan obtained by his business, Bellevie Corp.

• Rick McDuffie, 50, of Little Rock, South Carolina, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud in connection with the loan obtained by his business, Mickies Auto and Tire LLC.

Three additional defendants have been charged by Criminal Information:

Teldrin Foster, 39, of Decatur, Georgia, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the loan obtained by Bellator Phront Group Inc.

• Denesseria Slaton, 52, of Stockbridge, Georgia, is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud in connection with the loan obtained by Transportation Management Services Inc.

• Charmaine Redding, 27, of Macomb, Michigan, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the loan obtained by her business, All Star Room and Board Services of Michigan Inc.

Carla Jackson, 53, of Tucker, Georgia, was previously charged by indictment on August 4, 2020 with money laundering in connection with laundering the proceeds of Gaines Reservation and Travel’s PPP loan.

U.S. Attorney official said six defendants have pleaded guilty based on their roles in the fraudulent scheme:

Darrell Thomas, 35, of Duluth, Georgia, pleaded guilty on June 16, 2021 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud and one count of money laundering. As part of his guilty plea, Darrell Thomas admitted his participation in fraudulent conduct totaling more than $14.7 million, including more than $11.1 million in fraudulent PPP loans, more than $1.15 million in fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and more than $2.4 million in fraudulent automobile loans. He also agreed to forfeit various assets, including more than $2.1 million in seized funds, three luxury vehicles – a 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class S65AMG, a 2018 Land Rover Range Rover, and a 2017 Acura NSX – and several items of jewelry, including a gold Rolex. Darrell Thomas’s sentencing is set for September 15, 2021 before Judge J.P. Boulee.

• Denesseria Slaton, pleaded guilty on June 16, 2021 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud in connection with the loan obtained by Transportation Management Services Inc. Slaton’s sentencing is set for October 6, 2021.

• Khalil Gibran Green, Sr., 47, of Cleveland, Ohio, pleaded guilty on September 1, 2020, to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud in connection with the loan obtained by his business, Impact Creations LLC. On January 14, 2021, Judge J.P. Boulee sentenced Green to three years and five months’ imprisonment and five years of supervised release, and Judge Boulee ordered him to pay $830,000 in restitution, forfeiture of $157,035.71, and a special assessment of $100.

• Bern Benoit, 45, of Burbank, California, pleaded guilty on March 11, 2021 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud in connection with the loan obtained by his business, Transportation Management Services Inc. Benoit’s sentencing is set for September 8, 2021 before Judge J.P. Boulee.

• Charmaine Redding, pleaded guilty on July 14, 2021 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the loan obtained by her business, All Star Room and Board Services of Michigan Inc. Redding’s sentencing is set for October 21, 2021 before Judge J.P. Boulee.

Andre Lee Gaines, 67, of Dallas, Georgia, pleaded guilty on June 17, 2021 to one count of making false statements to the FBI in connection with the loan obtained by his business, Gaines Reservation and Travel.

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.