The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Mississippi announced that 14 individuals from Marshall and DeSoto County have been arrested on criminal charges relating to their involvement in a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain government funds.
The funds were originally intended to protect employees of endangered businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Now, each defendant has been 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. They have also been charged with conspiracy and illegal financial transactions.
The arrested individuals include:
- 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
“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,” J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said.
If convicted, each defendant will face a maximum penalty of 30 years for the conspiracy and wire fraud violations and 10 years for the financial transaction charges.
The case was jointly investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, and U.S Treasury Inspector General.