MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — On December 13, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that 57-year-old Michael A. Tolliver of Monroe, La. appeared before a United States judge on Monday, December 12, 2022, and pleaded guilty to Money Laundering.

In March 2020 Congress enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The act was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the CARES Act, the Small Business Administration (SBA) provided Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which were low-interest financing to small businesses, renters, and homeowners in regions affected by declared disasters. The CARES Act also provided authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses, through a program referred to as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

According to evidence presented in court, Tolliver initiated a scheme to defraud the SBA and various financial institutions by falsifying PPP and EIDL Program loan applications and other documents in the name of Tolliver Oil and Gas and provided false and fraudulent information specifically related to the number of employees and an average monthly payroll of the company.

On May 14, 2020, Tolliver electronically submitted a false and fraudulent PPP application to “Bank 3” in the name of Tolliver Oil and Gas, seeking approximately $664,724 in PPP funds. According to officials, Tolliver confirmed that the funds would be used “to retain workers and maintain payroll” in the PPP application.

Tolliver falsely represented that the company had 108 employees and that its average monthly payroll was $265,889.60. Tolliver also submitted a fake IRS Form 940 for 2019.

He signed the PPP application and ensured that the application and all of the information provided were accurate. According to authorities, Tolliver did not have employees or monthly expenses with Tolliver Oil and Gas.

On May 21, 2022, “Bank 3” disbursed $664,724 in loan benefits to an account held by Tolliver at “Bank 1.” As Tolliver used these funds, he made payments on vehicles and other items, including a 2020 Cadillac CT5, 2021 GMC Sierra 1500, two Tissot watches, two Tag Heuer watches, two 2021 Honda Rubicon ATVs, and a 2021 Honda Pioneer ATV.

After receiving the payment, Tolliver withdrew approximately $500,065 of the funds in the form of a cashier’s check on June 25, 2020, and deposited the funds into an account in another bank. Tolliver faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.

Tolliver’s sentencing is scheduled for May 2, 2023.