Marshall and DeSoto County residents arrested for payroll protection fraud

Published 8:00 am Thursday, October 27, 2022

Fourteen Marshall and DeSoto County residents were arrested today on criminal charges related to their involvement in a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain government funds intended to protect employees of endangered businesses during the COVD pandemic through the Payroll Protection Program of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

According to court documents, Robert Pearson, 52 years old, Holly Springs; Lakisha Jones Pearson, 46 years old, Holly Springs; Glendon Jones, 29 years old, Red Banks; Roneisha Dennis, 30 years old, Red Banks; Devonte Smith, 27 years old, Holly Springs; Jaliyah Godwin, 26 years old, Olive Branch; Jacoby Alexander, 39 years old, Holly Springs; Kevin Anderson, 41 years old, Lamar; Melvin Harris, 26 years old, Holly Springs; Dametris Pearson, 27 years old, Southaven; Terrance Isom, age unknown, Southaven; Mareceo Hobson, 28 years old, Olive Branch; Dianne Cox, 67 years old, Byhalia; and Doris Pearson, 56 years old, Olive Branch, are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud by fraudulently applying for PPP loans, as well as participating in wire transfers of over $10,000 involving proceeds of the fraud scheme.

The defendants are charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and illegal financial transactions. If convicted, they face a maximum penalty] of 30 years for the conspiracy and wire fraud violations and 10 years for the financial transaction charges. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The federal investigative agencies that assisted with this investigation emphasized their ongoing commitment to hold accountable those citizens who seek to fraudulently and unfairly profit from federal pandemic relief programs.

“The Secret Service remains steadfast in our commitment to investigating the exploitation of pandemic relief funds,” said U.S Secret Service Acting Special Agent in Charge Ben Zack Rogers, of the Memphis Tennessee Field Office. “We are thankful for the hard work and continued support of our partners as we work together to ensure that our country’s financial environment remains safe and secure.”

“The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration aggressively pursues those who attempt to defraud the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and its Paycheck Protection Program, which was created to assist legitimate business owners during the pandemic,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.  “We appreciate the efforts of our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office to ensure this criminal activity is held to account.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Roberts is prosecuting the case. The case was jointly investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, and U.S Treasury Inspector General.