Easton man spent COVID scheme money on French bulldog breeders, Rolls Royce: US Attorney

A visual aid used by federal prosecutors to describe Paycheck Protection Program fraud, one of the many schemes targeting taxpayer-funded coronavirus pandemic relief.

Seven people – including two from Brockton and one from Easton – have been arrested in connection with their alleged involvement in a multi-state scheme to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program funds, U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said.

Bill Dessaps, 46, of Easton, as well as Wens Herby Mathurin, 26, of Brockton, and Richardson Rhau, 49, also of Brockton, were among those arrested and charged with "conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit unlawful monetary transactions," a statement from the U.S. Attorneys' office said Jan. 26.

With the PPP funds he received, Dessaps allegedly issued sham payroll checks to himself and his relatives, purchased a new residence for himself in Easton in his sister’s name, paid $32,000 to French Bulldog breeders and purchased a Rolls Royce.

Mathurin allegedly made large payments to himself and two purported co-owners of his business.

According to court documents, the other four people involved in this scheme conspired to submit fraudulent PPP applications on behalf of numerous actual or purported businesses and non-profits – including businesses operated by Dessaps and Mathurin – and to collect kickbacks from the borrowers.

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The four people who allegedly submitted the applications and received the kickbacks were Wallace Ford, 38, of Buford, Georgia; Erin Brown, 40, of Buford, Georgia; Adiana Pierre, 39, of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee; and Gardy Alexandre, 51, of West Palm Beach, Florida.

The charging documents allege that, in June 2020, Rhau connected Alexandre with Dessaps, who operated a used car dealership in Abington, and with Mathurin, who purportedly operated a warehouse and cargo delivery business.

It is alleged that Alexandre and Pierre then forwarded information about Dessaps’ and Mathurin’s businesses to Brown and Ford, who submitted PPP applications to Kabbage, a financial technology company that was acquired by American Express in 2020 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2022.

The application for Dessaps’ dealership falsely stated that the dealership had 40 employees and average monthly payroll expenses of $334,720, Rollins said. The application for Mathurin’s business falsely stated that the business had 25 employees and average monthly payroll expenses of $125,541. Ford also allegedly submitted falsified wage and tax forms with this application.

As a result of the applications, Kabbage disbursed a PPP loan of $836,800 to Dessaps and a PPP loan of $313,852 to Mathurin, Rollins said.

After receiving these funds, both Dessaps and Mathurin allegedly made kickback payments to Alexandre, and Mathurin sent additional payments totaling $45,000 to Rhau.

The charging documents also allege that Rhau fraudulently obtained $104,166 in PPP funds and $94,800 in other pandemic relief funds as a result of applications containing misrepresentations that he submitted to lenders between April 2020 and April 2021.

According to the charging documents, between June and August 2020, Ford fraudulently secured a total of $7 million in PPP funds for at least 27 borrowers. Pierre, Alexandre and others allegedly identified potential applicants and provided those applicants’ information to Ford and Ford’s spouse, Brown.

Collectively, Ford, Brown, Pierre and Alexandre allegedly received over $1 million in kickback payments from borrowers, Rollins said.

In court in January 2023, the defendants were released on conditions following their initial appearances in federal court in their respective states.

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the scheme, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to commit unlawful monetary transactions provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the value of the criminally derived property.

Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

This article originally appeared on The Enterprise: Easton and Brockton men arrested in PPP scheme