North Texas Tax Consultant Pleads Guilty To $23M COVID-19 Relief Fraud
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A Libyan national who orchestrated a fraudulent scheme to secure more than $23 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans pleaded guilty Tuesday, Oct. 19 to a federal financial crime.
Steven Jalloul, a 43-year-old tax consultant from the Dallas area, was first charged via criminal complaint in September 2020 and indicted later that month.
He pleaded guilty to a superseding information charging him with one count of engaging in monetary transactions using property derived from unlawful activity.
“The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help hardworking businesspeople keep their companies afloat during the pandemic – not to line the pockets of unscrupulous accountants,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham in a statement. “The Justice Department will prosecute anyone who attempts to exploit pandemic-era financial programs. There are countless businesses ravaged by COVID-19 that deserved this money; Mr. Jalloul did not.”
According to plea papers, Jalloul admitted he defrauded lenders participating in the Paycheck Protection Program — a measure authorized by Congress in the early days of the pandemic to award forgivable loans to small business impacted by COVID-19 — while awaiting sentencing in a separate tax fraud case.
In court documents, he admitted he submitted roughly 170 falsified PPP loan applications to lenders seeking more than $23 million on behalf of more than 160 clients of his tax preparation business, Royalty Tax & Financial Services LLC.
Jalloul admitted he inflated clients’ employee rosters and monthly payroll expenses in order to increase the amount of PPP funds for which their businesses would be eligible, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
He generally charged clients a 2 to 20 percent commission on the PPP loans they received and even listed his ex-wife as Royalty Tax’s authorized representative, without her consent, when seeking an inflated PPP loan for his own business.
In total, 97 false PPP loan applications were ultimately approved, and Jalloul’s clients were awarded more than $12 million in PPP money. T
hose clients paid him at least $972,114 in fees.
Jalloul now faces up to 10 years in federal prison for the PPP fraud.
His sentencing date has not yet been set.
He is already behind bars at FCI-Seagoville, having pleaded guilty to tax fraud in the separate case in January 2020; in that case, he was sentenced to six years in federal prison.