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North Las Vegas man pleads guilty to COVID relief fraud

A North Las Vegas resident accused of collecting more than $1.1 million in fraudulent loans from the Paycheck Protection Program pleaded guilty to wire fraud Monday in U.S. District Court.

In March 2021, Jaquari Woodward, 24, submitted a PPP loan application with a false IRS tax form claiming to own a music business, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. He then advertised on social media to help others apply for loans, in which he’d receive a $10,000 fee for every approved application, prosecutors said.

Woodward saw returns on 56 PPP loan applications with a total return of $1,166,582 deposited into his and others’ bank accounts, according to court documents.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said Woodward falsely claimed that the applicants were business owners when the entities listed were either inactive or nonexistent, and he provided fictional gross incomes of these businesses with fraudulent documents.

In doing so, Woodward defrauded an unnamed lending institution based in Laguna Hills, California, which funded the loans, and the U.S. Small Business Administration, which fully guaranteed them, prosecutors said.

Woodward himself received over $41,000 in fraudulent loans and at least $100,000 from the fees he collected from others. He now awaits a sentencing hearing scheduled for Aug. 15. The maximum statutory penalty includes a 30-year prison sentence.

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