Federal authorities this morning arrested a Temecula man on federal fraud charges that allege he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) after obtaining more than $7 million in PPP loan funds on behalf of his company that purports to repair potholes.
Oumar Sissoko, 59, was arrested pursuant to a four-count wire fraud indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on April 13. Sissoko is expected to be arraigned on the indictment Thursday afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside.
According to the indictment, Sissoko obtained a $7.25 million loan for his company, Road Doctor California LLC, after submitting a PPP loan application in April 2020 claiming that Road Doctor was in the process of hiring 450 full-time employees and would have average monthly payroll expenses of $2.9 million. When he applied for the loan, Sissoko acknowledged the funds would be used to retain workers and maintain payroll, or make mortgage interest payments, lease payments and utility payments.
In the days after the PPP loan was funded on May 1, 2020, Sissoko allegedly misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars of the loan proceeds to use for impermissible purposes, including purchasing a luxury car for more than $100,000, paying off a loan on a different luxury car, and buying a computer for almost $6,000. “The impermissible uses also included a non-refundable down payment of approximately $100,000 to purchase a company located in New Hampshire, and the attempted transmission of approximately $150,000” to accounts in the African nation of Mauritania associated with a minerals exploration company for which Sissoko purports to serve as CEO, the indictment alleges.
If convicted, Sissoko would face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each of the four counts in the indictment. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the United States Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The arrest of Sissoko was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison, Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Assistant Director in Charge Kristi K. Johnson of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Weston King of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General’s Western Region, and Special Agent in Charge Wade V. Walters of the San Francisco Regional Office of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Office of Inspector General.
Assistant United States Attorney Alexander C.K. Wyman of the Major Frauds Section and DOJ Trial Attorney John “Fritz” Scanlon of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting this case. Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan S. Galatzan of the Asset Forfeiture Section is providing substantial assistance, including the seizure of two luxury automobiles allegedly purchased with PPP loan funds.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, and is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses, through the PPP. In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional PPP funding.
Anyone with general information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Justice Department’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.