Louisiana Woman Sentenced to Prison For Pandemic Paycheck Protection Program and Unemployment Fraud Scheme Totaling Over $660k

By Calcasieu Staff
Published May 03, 2023

Share This:

Louisiana Woman Sentenced to Prison For Pandemic Paycheck Protection Program and Unemployment Fraud Scheme Totaling Over $660k

A woman from Louisiana was sentenced to prison for her role in a fraudulent scheme related to the Pandemic Paycheck Protection Program and unemployment benefits, totaling over $660,000.

On May 2, 2023, United States Attorney Ronald C. Gathe, Jr. announced that U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson sentenced Lestreonia Renee Rodrigue, age 28, of Plaquemine, Louisiana, to 44 months in federal prison following her conviction for mail fraud. The Court further sentenced Rodrigue to serve three years of supervised release following her term of imprisonment and ordered her to pay $663,259 in restitution.

Between July 2020 and September 2021, Rodrigue filed fraudulent unemployment insurance claims in California in her own name and the names of others. Rodrigue also submitted bogus claims for Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) benefits in the names of fictitious enterprises with fictitious earnings and losses.

Rodrigue fraudulently stated in her unemployment insurance scam that she and others were working in California previous to the coronavirus pandemic and that they lost their jobs as a result of the outbreak. Rodrigue got the identities, birth dates, and Social Security numbers of individuals and, with and without their knowledge, filed bogus claims for unemployment insurance payments in their names. Rodrigue obtained identifying information from people via social media. She either contributed a portion of the monies to others or kept all of the funds after submitting the claims and collecting the funds. Rodrigue received hundreds of thousands of dollars in unemployment insurance debit cards through her method.

Rodrigue also created a strategy to defraud lenders and the United States by making bogus and fraudulent applications for PPP monies via the Small Business Administration. Rodrigue submitted or had others submit, fake bank statements, and false tax documents, and made misrepresentations in her PPP applications to continue the plan.

Rodrigue also falsely claimed bank cards were stolen or lost in order to acquire replacement cards containing further pandemic benefit monies. Throughout the fraudulent schemes, Rodrigue caused over $500,000 in unemployment insurance debit cards to be mailed to her addresses, which she and others were not entitled to. Rodrigue also placed $20,833 into her bank account to which she was not entitled.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Department of Labor-OIG investigated the case, which was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edward H. Warner.