In a gripping turn of events, a Manhattan federal jury has rendered a resounding verdict, convicting three individuals of orchestrating a brazen scheme to siphon $7.9 million from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) through fraudulent COVID-19 relief applications.
Convictions and Consequences
Jacob Carter, Quadri Salahuddin, and Anwar Salahuddin faced charges of wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, and aggravated identity theft, announced the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office following the jury’s decision on Friday.
Jury Convicts 3 Of $7.9M COVID Aid Fraud Scheme : Overwhelming Evidence
“The jury’s swift verdict underscores the overwhelming evidence presented at trial,” remarked Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. “These defendants conspired to plunder a taxpayer-funded program designed to aid small businesses struggling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Deceptive Maneuver
Prosecutors unveiled a chilling timeline, alleging that from March to July 2020, the trio employed the identities of more than 1,000 individuals to submit fraudulent relief applications via the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. This program, aimed at supporting small businesses during the pandemic’s early days, became a tool for the defendants’ nefarious intentions.
False Representations Unveiled
The scheme involved false representations, as the defendants purported that the applicants—whose identities they usurped—owned businesses with over 10 employees. However, investigations revealed that these individuals neither possessed businesses nor employed anyone.
Jury Convicts 3 Of $7.9M COVID Aid Fraud Scheme :The Payoff
Despite the facade, the SBA dispersed a staggering $7.9 million in advanced payments to the applicants. Subsequently, a portion of these funds was diverted back to Carter and the Salahuddin brothers.
The Promise and the Deception
In a web of deception, the defendants lured applicants with promises of a share in forgivable SBA loans. For instance, Anwar Salahuddin enticingly messaged an applicant on Facebook, tantalizing them with the prospect of earning “$6k” through a COVID-19 relief channel.
Lavish Displays and Misuse
As the illicit gains poured in, prosecutors revealed a lavish display of wealth. The defendants splurged on extravagant jewelry and flaunted stacks of cash. Carter, in particular, indulged in leasing a Lamborghini, further fueling the narrative of their audacious exploitation.
Jury Convicts 3 Of $7.9M COVID Aid Fraud Scheme : Additional Revelations
A fourth defendant, Christal Ransom, also faced charges in connection to the indictment. Ransom subsequently pleaded guilty to mail fraud conspiracy in December 2021.
Legal proceedings witnessed Jacob Carter representing himself, with John S. Wallenstein serving as standby counsel. Quadri Salahuddin enlisted the expertise of Margaret M. Shalley and Sarah Speis of Margaret M. Shalley & Associates LLC, while Anwar Salahuddin was represented by Francis O’Reilly from the Law Office of Francis L. O’Reilly.
The government’s prosecution team, comprising Jeffrey Coffman, Courtney Heavey, and Jared Hoffman from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, remained steadfast in their pursuit of justice throughout the trial.