Louisiana Man Sentenced to Prison and Ordered to Pay $1.1 Million in Restitution For Pandemic Fraud Scheme

By Calcasieu Staff
Published May 03, 2023

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Louisiana Man Sentenced to Prison and Ordered to Pay $1.1 Million in Restitution For Pandemic Fraud Scheme

Louisiana – A man from Louisiana has been sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $1.1 million in restitution for a pandemic fraud scheme.

On Tuesday, May 2, 2023, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Louisiana announced that Michael Ansezell Tolliver, 57, of Monroe, Louisiana, has been sentenced by United States District Judge Terry A. Doughty for money laundering in connection with a fraudulent scheme to obtain more than $1.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program loans. Tolliver was sentenced to 120 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release. In addition, Tolliver was ordered to pay $1,114,724 in restitution.

“The significant sentence handed down today demonstrates that those who steal from COVID-19 relief programs for personal gain will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “We remain committed to rooting out bad actors who took advantage of federal programs meant to help those small businesses truly in need.”

“This defendant stole over $1 million through fraudulent means and used those funds to support his own personal lifestyle, taking from those whose legitimate businesses were suffering from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown. “Federal programs such as these are set up to help those in need, not to benefit those who do not. It is a priority for our office to prosecute those who obtain these benefits illegally. We look forward to continued collaboration with the DOJ’s fraud section in aggressively investigating similar crimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Tolliver pled guilty to one count of money laundering in December 2022. Tolliver, according to court filings, submitted nine bogus PPP and EIDL Program loan applications on behalf of numerous ostensibly owned firms, including Tolliver Oil & Gas Corporation of Louisiana, Inc. and Tolliver Petroleum Corporation of Louisiana. Tolliver lied on loan applications and supporting paperwork, including saying that several of his enterprises had more than 100 employees. He also filed false federal tax returns.

“Mr. Tolliver chose greed over compassion by fraudulently obtaining funds from the PPP and EIDL programs established to assist employers severely impacted by the pandemic,” said James E. Dorsey, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Atlanta Field Office. “Tolliver’s sentence today should stand as a warning to those who fraudulently received or may have attempted to fraudulently receive funds intended to help businesses during the COVID epidemic.”

“This result reveals the excellence achieved through the combined efforts of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to uncover and forcefully respond to PPP and EIDL fraud,” said Special Counsel Peggy Delinois Hamilton of the SBA. “SBA is strongly committed to identifying and aggressively pursuing instances of fraud perpetrated by those who took advantage of small business emergency relief programs. We applaud the work that our law enforcement partners have done to ensure fraudsters are held accountable.”

Tolliver applied for more than $7.6 million in PPP and EIDL Program loans and received more than $1.1 million. Tolliver then laundered and misappropriated the loan proceeds, including by transferring monies to personal bank accounts and buying luxury items. Authorities seized $128,500 in bank accounts as well as a 2020 Cadillac CT5 sedan, a 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 truck, two Tissot watches, two Tag Heuer watches, and three Honda all-terrain vehicles.

The IRS-CI and SBA investigated the case, and Assistant Chief Justin M. Woodard of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth D. Reeg of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana prosecuted it.

The Fraud Section is in charge of prosecuting fraud schemes that take advantage of the PPP. Since the inception of the PPP, Fraud Section attorneys have prosecuted over 100 defendants in over 70 criminal cases. In addition, the Fraud Section seized more than $65 million in cash gains resulting from fraudulently obtained PPP funding, as well as several real estate assets and luxury items purchased with such revenues. More details are available at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/ppp-fraud.

The Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force on May 17, 2021, to marshal the Department of Justice’s resources in collaboration with agencies across the government to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other things, 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. Visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus for more information on the department’s response to the pandemic.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can contact the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 8667205721 or submit a complaint using the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.