Two Texas men and one Oregon man have been charged with participating in a fraudulent scheme to obtain over $14 million in Government-guaranteed loans designed to provide relief to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apocalypse Bella, Mackenzy Toussaint, and Amos Mundendi were involved in a scheme to prepare and submit fraudulent applications to the Small Business Administration, according to an indictment unsealed Friday in Manhattan federal court.
According to the indictment, the trio planned to submit applications to at least one company which processes loan applications under the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program.
The goal of the scheme was to obtain at least approximately $14 million in government-guaranteed loans for various companies through the PPP which is designed to provide financial relief to qualifying companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the indictment alleged.
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"Apocalypse Bella and his co-defendants are charged with engaging in a scheme to obtain over $14 million in fraudulent loans from the government," U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said. "The Coronavirus pandemic has profoundly affected the global economy, and Government-funded Coronavirus loan programs provide much-needed economic relief to individuals, families, and businesses suffering economic hardships. This Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to ensure the watchful protection of these critical funds from fraud."
This scheme resulted in the approval of fraudulently procured loans for two companies, both located in the Southern District of New York, totaling approximately $14 million.
The funds were distributed to a series of bank accounts located in the United States and elsewhere, including bank accounts controlled by Toussaint and Bella, according to the indictment.
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Toussaint, an Irving resident, and Mundendi, a Dallas resident, are expected to be presented Saturday before a U.S. magistrate judge in the Northern District of Texas.
Bella, an Oregon resident, was arrested on March 18, 2021 in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Bella, Toussaint, and Mundendi are charged with one count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, one count of major fraud against the United States, which carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, and one count of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy, each of which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress, and any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge, the FBI said.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
"As alleged in the indictment, the defendants in this case are charged with fraudulently securing loans intended to help honest small businesses and their employees deal with the pandemic's economic effects," FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said. "Our actions should serve as a reminder of our steadfast commitment to bringing justice to those who would seek to illegally leverage government programs for selfishly personal gains. These defendants now face a personal reckoning - the result of which may be an extended stay in federal prison for each of them."