Two Texas Men And One Oregon Man Charged With Fraud Scheme To Obtain Over $14 Million In Covid-Relief Loans

Published 2:31 pm Thursday, April 22, 2021

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Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite, Eastern Region Special Agent-in-Charge of the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”), Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), and Stephen Donnelly, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Office of the Inspector General of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve announced that APOCALYPSE BELLA, a/k/a “Dias Yumba,” MACKENZY TOUSSAINT, a/k/a “Mack,” and AMOS MUNDENDI, a/k/a “Mos,” a/k/a “El Ashile Mundi,” were charged with participating in a fraudulent scheme to obtain over $14 million in Government-guaranteed loans designed to provide relief to small businesses during the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. TOUSSAINT and MUNDENDI are expected to be presented tomorrow before a U.S. magistrate judge in the Northern District of Texas.  BELLA was arrested on March 18, 2021 in the Eastern District of Virginia.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein.

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “Apocalypse Bella and his co-defendants are charged with engaging in a scheme to obtain over $14 million in fraudulent loans from the government. The Coronavirus pandemic has profoundly affected the global economy, and Government-funded Coronavirus loan programs provide much-needed economic relief to individuals, families, and businesses suffering economic hardships.  This Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to ensure the watchful protection of these critical funds from fraud.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “As alleged in the indictment, the defendants in this case are charged with fraudulently securing loans intended to help honest small businesses and their employees deal with the pandemic’s economic effects.  Our actions should serve as a reminder of our steadfast commitment to bringing justice to those who would seek to illegally leverage government programs for selfishly personal gains.  These defendants now face a personal reckoning – the result of which may be an extended stay in federal prison for each of them.”

IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Jonathan Larsen said:  “The CARES Act and the Payroll Protection Program have been a life line to help sustain the many small and large businesses who were impacted by the pandemic.  The defendants are accused of fraud against these programs solely to enrich themselves, a flagrant and reprehensible abuse of these programs, which has kept so many American businesses afloat. Today’s charges make it clear that IRS-CI and our partners will continue to aggressively root alleged abusers of these programs.”

Acting Special Agent in Charge, Eastern Region, OIG for the Federal Reserve Board and CFPB Stephen Donnelly said: “We are fully committed to bringing to justice wrongdoers who exploit and defraud financial institutions and the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

SBA OIG’s Eastern Region Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite said: “Law enforcement will identify all conspirators to pull fraud schemes out by the roots. SBA OIG will aggressively pursue evidence of fraud against SBA’s programs aimed at assisting the nation’s small businesses struggling with the pandemic challenges.  I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their dedication and pursuit of justice.”

According to the Indictment[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

APOCALYPSE BELLA, a/k/a “Dias Yumba,” MACKENZY TOUSSAINT, a/k/a “Mack,” and AMOS MUNDENDI, a/k/a “Mos,” a/k/a “El Ashile Mundi,” were involved in an extensive scheme to prepare and submit fraudulent applications to the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) and to at least one company which processes loan applications under the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”), in order to obtain at least approximately $14 million in government-guaranteed loans for various companies through the PPP, designed to provide financial relief to qualifying companies during the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

This scheme resulted in the approval of fraudulently procured loans for two companies (“Company-1” and “Company-2”), both located in the Southern District of New York, totaling approximately $4 million, and the distribution of the proceeds of these fraudulently obtained funds to a series of bank accounts located in the United States and elsewhere, including bank accounts controlled by TOUSSAINT and BELLA.

The PPP loan applications for Company-1 and Company-2 were false, containing lies designed to maximize proceeds to the fraud scheme.  Specifically, applications for both Company-1 and Company-2 contained material differences from loan applications submitted for both companies for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) program just months earlier.  For instance, the PPP loan application for Company-1 represented that Company-1 had over 100 employees.  However, an earlier EIDL loan application for Company-1 dated on or about March 30, 2020, represented that Company-1 had only four employees.

BELLA, TOUSSAINT, and MUNDENDI devised and executed this fraudulent scheme by conspiring with individuals who own, operate or otherwise are affiliated with businesses, such as Company-1 and Company-2.  BELLA, TOUSSAINT, MUNDENDI, and other co-conspirators supervised and coordinated the submission of fraudulent PPP loan applications for those businesses, and in some cases, completed and/or submitted the fraudulent applications themselves.

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BELLA, 36, of Clackamas, Oregon, TOUSSAINT, 39, of Irving, Texas, and MUNDENDI, 32, of Dallas, Texas, are charged with one count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, one count of major fraud against the United States, which carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, and one count of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy, each of which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding work of the FBI, SBA-OIG, IRS-CI, and the OIG for the Federal Reserve.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dina McLeod and Eun Young Choi are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the indictment, and the description of the indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.