green belt, Md. – Brandon Fitzgerald-Holley, 32, of Suitland, Md., Pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with COVID-19 loan fraud.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Shimon R. Richmond, Central Atlantic Region, Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC-OIG); Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite, Special Agent in charge of Inspector General’s Eastern Region Small Business Administration Office (SBA-OIG); Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Inspector General’s Office of Social Security Administration, Philadelphia Field Division (SSA-OIG); and Special Agent in Charge Darrell J. Waldon of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Washington, DC Field Office (IRS-CI).
According to his guilty plea, Fitzgerald-Holley used his non-operational nonprofit, the Coalition for Social Justice and Reform Incorporated (the Coalition), to fraudulently obtain COVID-19 relief funds. Since the Coalition’s formation in 2018, the nonprofit has had no employees, income, or regular operations.
On March 31, 2020, Fitzgerald-Holley submitted an application for an Economic Disaster Loan (EIDL) in the amount of $ 150,000 to the Small Business Administration (SBA) on behalf of the Coalition. On June 3, 2020, the SBA denied the Coalition’s EIDL request. That same day, Fitzgerald-Holley contacted the SBA to request reconsideration of EIDL’s request. The SBA has not approved Fitzgerald-Holley’s request for a review of its EIDL, nor has it provided Fitzgerald-Holley with EIDL funding.
Additionally, on June 13, 2020, shortly after the denial of Fitzgerald-Holley’s fraudulent EIDL application, Fitzgerald-Holley submitted a request to Institution 1 for a loan of $ 305,854 from the Personal Protection Program. paychecks (PPP). Institution 1 is an online financial technology company specializing in small business lending and participating as a non-bank PPP lender.
On the PPP loan application, Fitzgerald-Holley falsely indicated that the Coalition employed 25 employees and had an average monthly salary cost of $ 122,342. In reality, the Coalition had no employees or payroll costs. Fitzgerald-Holley also created and submitted fraudulent documents, including a fraudulent IRS Form W-3, which incorrectly stated that the Coalition had 25 employees with a total salary of $ 1,385,000.
On June 13, 2020, the Coalition’s PPP loan application was approved. Fitzgerald-Holley signed the note on the loan as CEO of the Coalition. Institution 1 then deposited $ 305,854 in PPP loan funds to Fitzgerald-Holley’s personal account on June 16, 2020.
As stated in his plea agreement, upon receiving the fraudulently obtained PPP proceeds, Fitzgerald-Holley used the funds to purchase personal items including clothing, a pool table, televisions, electronics, a Dodge. Charger Scat 2020 and various accessories for the vehicle. He also used the funds to finance a vacation rental. In total, Fitzgerald-Holley embezzled $ 305,854 in P3 loan funds.
Fitzgerald-Holley faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud. United States District Judge George J. Hazel has sentencing March 7, 2021 at 10 a.m.
US Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI, FDIC-OIG, SBA-OIG, SSA-OIG, and IRS-CI for their work in the investigation. Mr Barron thanked Assistant US Attorney Caitlin R. Cottingham and District Attorney John Liolos of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division Fraud Section, who are pursuing the case.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General created the Task Force on Combating Covid-19 Fraud to mobilize the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent the pandemic fraud. The Working Group strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable national and international criminal actors and assists agencies responsible for administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by scaling up and integrating mechanisms coordination, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their programs, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving Covid-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720 -5721 or via the NCDF web complaint form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
For more information on the Maryland US Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and the resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
# # #