24 indicted in Roanoke Paycheck Protection Program fraud scheme

Gavel (Pixabay)

ROANOKE, Va. – A Roanoke federal grand jury sealed an indictment earlier this month, charging 24 people from the Roanoke area with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, making false statements, and fraud connected to an emergency benefits program, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia.

The Paycheck Protection Program was a COVID-19 pandemic relief program administered by the Small Business Administration to provide forgivable loans to small businesses for “job retention and certain other expenses.”

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According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the indictment, sealed Wednesday, alleges that between June of 2020 and May of 2021, those who were charged participated in a scheme to obtain PPP loans when most did not have a business that was operational.

We’re told several of the individuals charged who applied for PPP loans for the alleged businesses were also applying for unemployment benefits.

Personal information, such as dates of birth and social security numbers was collected from friends and acquaintances who already owned businesses in order to submit fraudulent PPP loan applications on their behalf.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Jaimeka Austin, Kierra Gardner, and other co-conspirators facilitated dozens of fraudulent loan applications, to obtain over $1.5 million in benefits which they were not entitled to.

Below is a full list of those charged in connection with the scheme:

  • Jaimeka Mechelle Austin, 31, purported owner of Mechelle’s Boutique LLC.
  • Ta’Quan De’Carlos Austin, 34, purported owner of Quan’o’s Chimney Sweep LLC.
  • Richard David Henson Brown, 35, purported owner of Immaculate Balla Cleaning Service LLC.
  • Israel Antonio Cunningham, 36, purported owner of Tate’s Lawn Care & Services LLC.
  • Rahiim Noel Cunningham, 27, purported owner of Quanie’s Lounge LLC.
  • Timothy Edward Cunningham, Jr., 26, purported owner of Gen5 Dog Kennels LLC.
  • Mikkielia Sentoyia Fisher, 37, purported owner of Mad Stylez Clothing.
  • Joshua Scott Fleming, 32, purported owner of Clear N Shine Auto Detail.
  • Kiearra Desaray Gardner, 35, purported owner of businesses in the name of Kiearra Gardner and Kustom Kreationz by Kie LLC.
  • Sierra Desaray Garrison, 39, purported owner of Major Pressure LLC.
  • Deshawn Lamar Johnson, 34, purported owner of Affordable Car Care LLC.
  • Antonio Devaughn Levesy, 36, purported owner of Squeaky Clean Mobile Detailing LLC.
  • Millot Kevin Lexima, 30, purported owner of Plugd N Kennel LLC.
  • Xavier Lee Manigault, 31, purported owner of The Goat Car Care LLC.
  • Talisha Geornell Otey, 33, purported owner of businesses in the name of Talisha, Lash Tech, and the Butterfly Effect 540 LLC.
  • Corey Durrell Steelman, 37, purported owner of Steel Hauling LLC.
  • Jamal Donnell Steelman, 34, purported owner of Steel Painters LLC.
  • Jessica Nicole Taylor, 34, purported owner of All In Caregiving LLC.
  • Thomas Manuel Taylor, 54, purported owner of Showcase Kennels LLC.
  • Denisha Michelle Walker, 31, purported owner of multiple businesses including businesses in the name of Denisha Walker and Lit & Fit Sculpting LLC.
  • Jenea Shontae Webb, 39, purported owner of Nae & Friends Childcare.
  • Stephfon Davido Webb, 36, self-employed and working in the janitorial industry.
  • Akeem Marquis Williams, 37, purported owner of Williams & Williams Moving Company LLC.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said a 24th defendant has been indicted but not yet arrested, who remains under seal.

The FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigations are investigating the case.


About the Author

Lauren Helkowski joined WSLS 10’s digital team in August 2022, but has held a passion for storytelling long before.

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