ST. LOUIS – A woman from Florissant pleaded guilty to federal charges Monday and admitted submitting fraudulent applications that triggered $828,813 in loans and grants that were supposed to go to businesses struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.
Dionneshae Forland, 51, pleaded guilty to bank fraud, theft of government property and four counts of wire fraud and admitted a scheme to fraudulently obtain money from the Paycheck Protection Program and the Missouri Small Business Grant Program.
From January 2021 through May 2021, Forland lied on PPP loan applications about the number of employees and monthly payroll expenses of the companies that she claimed needed help. She also submitted fraudulent tax forms, bank statements, payroll records and employee lists to back up the scheme.
She obtained four loans totaling $592,235 for herself. She did not spend the money for PPP-approved purposes, instead spending it on her personal expenses, her plea agreement says. She also fraudulently obtained a $150,000 loan for a company linked to her son, Dwayne Times, and two loans totaling $36,600 on behalf of two people referred to her by Times.
Forland also submitted four fraudulent grant applications to the Missouri Small Business Grant Program in July 2020, but no grants were disbursed. She was successful in fraudulently obtaining a grant for one company by falsely claiming it had been in operation since February 2017 and by submitting false documents and information about the number of employees and the payroll, her plea agreement says. A grant of $49,988 was disbursed into a bank account controlled by Times. Times took out $8,000 in cash before the money was “clawed back” due to officials’ fraud suspicions.
As part of her plea, Forland agreed to forfeit any profits from her scheme. Nearly $600,000 has been seized from various accounts linked to Forland or Times.
Times, 31, pleaded guilty June 9 to one count each of wire fraud and theft of government property. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 11.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Clow is prosecuting the case.