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Florida man who fraudulently collected more than $1M in coronavirus relief funds sentenced to prison 

Story at a glance

  • According to authorities, Eustache submitted 13 different fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) or Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications.
  • The PPP provided hundreds of billions of dollars in forgivable loans to small businesses turned upside down by the economic fallout of the pandemic.
  • Eustache sought a total of more than $2.1 million in pandemic-related benefits and was able to collect more than $1.3 million after eight of the loans were approved.

A Palm Bay, Fla., man has been handed a five-year prison sentence in connection to a scheme in which he collected more than $1 million in federal coronavirus relief funds, according to the Department of Justice.  

Johnson Eustache was sentenced in Orlando federal court Tuesday to five years in federal prison for wire fraud and aiding and assisting in preparation of false tax returns. Eustache pleaded guilty to the charges in August.  

According to authorities, Eustache submitted 13 different fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) or Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications to the Small Business Administration and PPP loan servicers and lenders between March 2020 and April 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged on across the country. The PPP provided hundreds of billions of dollars in forgivable loans to small businesses turned upside down by the economic fallout of the pandemic.  


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Some applications were in Eustache’s own name while others were in the names of relatives or associates who were unaware.  

Eustache sought a total of more than $2.1 million in pandemic-related benefits and was able to collect more than $1.3 million after eight of the loans were approved.  

Authorities said Eustache included false statements in the applications regarding the applicant’s criminal history, number of employees and payroll, and used the funds to make personal investments, purchase real estate and construct residential properties. He has been ordered to forfeit about $700,000 seized from several bank accounts and properties in Palm Bay and Poinciana, Fla. 

Prosecutors also said Eustache filed 28 returns for taxpayers containing false adjustments, false income amounts or false deductions while he worked as a tax return preparer between 2017 and 2021.  

“The total loss to the IRS as a result of the false tax returns filed by Eustache was $87,044,” authorities said.  

The Justice Department has cracked down on those who fraudulently collected funds through PPP. Earlier this month, a Georgia woman was sentenced to more than three years in prison for fraudulently collecting more than $6 million through the program. 


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