Jacksonville residents accused of defrauding Paycheck Protection Program

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Patrick Semansky, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two Jacksonville residents are accused of defrauding the federal Paycheck Protection Program and then trying to cover their tracks afterward.

Dwan Ashong and El Hadj Sall, both of Jacksonville, are among 21 people named in an 82-page federal indictment charging them with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, all felony offenses.

According to the indictment, filed July 13 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Georgia’s Northern District, the pair conspired with others to falsify financial documents including payroll information, tax papers and a loan application to obtain a $823,585 loan for Bellevie Corp, a corporation owned by Sall.

The indictment states the pair were also involved in a series of financial transactions intended to make it difficult to track the money, including the purchase of a luxury sports-utility vehicle.

The transactions included a Sept. 1, 2020, transfer of $535,000 from a Bellevie bank account to a separate account held by Rapid Pay Card, and a Sept. 21, 2020, transfer of $200,000 from the Bellevie account to a bank account held by DA Gilpen Enterprises, Ashong’s company. In addition, $143,000 was transferred from a DA Gilpen Enterprises account to a third account for the purchase of a 2019 Range Rover.

Ashong is also accused of playing a role in efforts to conceal the destination of PPP funds awarded to at least four other companies named in the indictment.

The indictment states a Georgia company and PPP loan recipient transferred $47,400 to DA Gilpen Enterprises, Ashong’s company, in June 2020. The same month, a South Carolina company and PPP loan recipient transferred $195,000 to Richland Property Investors Group, a company owned by Ashong. Richland also received transfers of $175,800 and $134,873 from a pair of Michigan companies and PPP loan recipients in July 2020.

If convicted, the defendants will be required to forfeit funding and property obtained as a result of the PPP loan program, in addition to any sentence imposed by the court.

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