ST. PETERSBURG, FL — A Tampa court sentenced a St. Petersburg man to three years and six months in federal prison Tuesday for fraudulently obtaining money through various COVID-19 relief programs, a Hillsborough County State Attorney's news release said.
Louis Thornton III, 63, pleaded guilty Sept. 13 to receiving $814,632 through the wire fraud scheme.
According to court documents from April through July 2020, Thornton submitted fraudulent applications for EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) and PPP (Paycheck Protection Programs) loans through the SBA's online EIDL portal on behalf of several defunct companies. Thornton’s applications fraudulently claimed, among other material misrepresentations, that these companies were operational and had suffered economic injury due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thornton used the money obtained through the SBA’s EIDL and PPP programs to invest in stocks, futures, and commodities, documents show.
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.