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The Philadelphia business owner admits using nearly $ 1 million in PPP loans to buy a home, cars, and jewelry

The owner of a construction company in Philadelphia admitted Tuesday that he had received nearly $ 1 million in coronavirus aid funds using fraudulent tax documents, and then used the proceeds to purchase personal items such as a Florida house, Lexus, and diamond rings .

Devron Brown, 50, said little while pleading guilty to 11 bank fraud and money laundering cases before US District Judge Chad F. Kenney. Brown’s attorney Geoffrey V. Seay declined to comment, as did US Assistant Attorney Kathryn Deal.

He is one of a relatively small number of people charged with fraud against the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the federal program for corporate forgivable loans designed to help businesses meet the economic challenges posed by the pandemic.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department announced that more than 100 people had been charged in approximately 70 PPP-related cases across the country. However, that represents a small fraction of the 11.8 million PPP loans that companies used to provide nearly $ 800 billion to fund payroll and other expenses during the pandemic.

Brown’s plan was relatively simple, according to the indictment documents that outlined his case. Last June, he submitted fraudulent payroll and tax information to support a loan application of approximately $ 935,000 for his company, Just Us Construction. The loan was approved on June 26, 2020. Within a few weeks, Brown began using the money to buy items for himself and his loved ones.

Last July, shortly after his loan was approved, prosecutors spent $ 250,000 on a house in Deltona, Florida, nearly $ 43,000, to buy his mother a 2017 Lexus GS 350, about $ 50,000 to buy a 2018 Ford F350 XLT pickup truck, and $ 55,000 to buy an excavator.

Later that year, they said Brown spent about $ 6,300 on an engagement ring and a wedding ring made of gold and diamonds. He also bought a motorcycle.

In February 2021, when the funds from the loan were almost exhausted, Brown attempted to apply for another PPP loan but was denied.

In June he was charged by the federal prosecutor’s office. Several weeks later, he did not show up for a bail hearing and did not report to his probation officer, according to the court records. He was arrested and detained in Florida in August while awaiting trial.

Brown is due to be convicted of his crimes in April. He faces years of imprisonment.

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