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Two Columbus men indicted for defrauding CARES Act funds

Photo courtesy of the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Mississippi

On Wednesday, a federal grand jury in Oxford returned an indictment charging two Columbus residents with fraud in connection with over $2 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds received by their inoperative business.

Per court documents, Jabari Ogbanna Edwards and Antwann Richardson applied for both PPP and EIDL  loans. They received these funds shortly before and after their company, North Atlantic Security (NAS), halted business.

Additionally, the indictment alleges that NAS received more than $500,000 in PPP funds one month before it sold all contracts and assets to American Sentry Security Services. After the business was no longer operating, NAS applied for an additional $1.85 million in EIDL modification funds.

Instead of using the loans for allowed expenses, Edwards and Richardson laundered funds through various businesses that they owned such as J5 Solutions, J5 GBL, Edwards Enterprises, BH Properties, and The Bridge Group.

The two men also used the money for personal real estate transactions, political contributions, charitable donations, loan payments for vehicles, and a donation to Jackson State University. Other arrangements included lump-sum payments to friends, family, and employees of their other companies and the purchase of Court Square Towers in Columbus.

Both men are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. Edwards is also facing a charge for making a false statement.

If convicted, Edwards and Richardson could face a maximum of 30 years in prison.

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