Denver Woman Accused of Stealing More Than $3.3 Million from Covid Relief Programs

Denver Woman Accused of Stealing More Than $3.3 Million from Covid Relief Programs

DENVER – The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announces DeJane Reaniece Lattany, age 32, of Denver, has been charged by information with wire fraud for receiving more than $3.3 million of fraudulent COVID-19 loans.

On March 27, 2020, the President of the United States signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, which provided emergency assistance to small business owners suffering adverse economic effects caused by the Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic. The CARES Act established several new temporary programs and expanded existing programs, including programs created or administered by the SBA. Two sources of funding for small businesses were the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (“EIDL”) program. The CARES Act mandated that only businesses in operation on February 15, 2020, for PPP, or before February 1, 2020, for EIDL, were eligible under the programs. In addition, the CARES Act authorized the SBA to issue advances of up to $10,000 to small businesses, known as Economic Injury Disaster Grants (“EIDG”). The amount of the EIDG was determined by the number of employees the applicant certified having. The EIDGs did not need to be repaid.

According to court documents, beginning in June 2020 and continuing through January 2022, the defendant prepared and submitted fraudulent EIDL applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA) on behalf of business entities that she purportedly owned. In these fraudulent EIDL applications, Lattany made false statements regarding the entities’ number of employees, gross revenues, and cost of goods sold; she further falsely certified that the information provided in the EIDL applications was true and accurate and that the funds would be used to pay payroll and other permissible expenses when, in fact, she used the bulk of the proceeds for her personal benefit. The SBA approved and funded five EIDL applications and three EIDGs for a total of $430,000 in EIDLs and $20,000 in EIDGs. From June 2020 through December 2021, Lattany submitted fraudulent PPP applications to participating lenders on behalf of business entities that she purportedly controlled and obtained $2,887,976.94 in PPP loans as a result of the Scheme. These PPP applications contained a number of false and fraudulent certifications and representations regarding Lattany’s ownership of other businesses, as well as the businesses’ average monthly payroll and number of employees. Lattany falsely represented that all PPP funds would be used to pay eligible business expenses, when, in fact, the bulk of the proceeds were used for her personal benefit. She also submitted false and fraudulent documentation in support of the PPP applications to the participating lenders. Lattany also sought loan forgiveness for PPP loans by submitting loan. In total, $3,337,976.94 of PPP, EIDL, and EIDG proceeds were paid out as a result of the scheme.

The defendant made her initial appearance before Magistrate Judge S. Kato Crews on March 27, 2023.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Denver Division. Prosecution is being handled by Nicole C. Cassidy and Rebecca S. Weber.

The charge contained in the information is an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

CASE NUMBER: 23-cr-00074-NYW

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