Following a nationwide coordinated law enforcement action plan to combat Covid-19 health care fraud by the United States Department of Justice, a Gibsland woman was federally indicted following an investigation by a grand jury.
On Thursday, April 20, Shaqualia Lewis (also known as Shaqualia Lewis Chatman), 35, was indicted for an alleged scheme to fraudulently obtain over $1 million in funds from federal programs.
According to the United States Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Louisiana, Lewis was charged with wire fraud and money laundering in connection with an alleged scheme to fraudulently obtain over $1.1 million in funds under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).
These federal programs were intended for low-interest financing to small businesses, renters and homeowners in regions affected by declared disasters.
According to the indictment, Lewis, a registered nurse, caused the submission of numerous fraudulent loan applications that contained false statements regarding a purported business and the intended use of the loan funds.
The funds were allegedly used for personal expenses, such as gambling and contracting work on her home.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought hardships to many American citizens and those who have chosen to abuse the assistance that was provided is appalling,” said U.S. Attorney Brown. “We will continue to join with our federal and state and local partners to investigate and prosecute any who may have defrauded the government through these programs that were offered to help people.
United States Attorney Brandon B. Brown joined with the Department of Justice also announced criminal charges against 18 defendants in 9 federal districts across the United States for their alleged participation in various fraud schemes involving health care services that exploited the COVID-19 pandemic and allegedly resulted in over $490 million in COVID-19 related false billings to federal programs and theft from federally funded pandemic programs.
“Today’s announcement marks the largest-ever coordinated law enforcement action in the United States targeting health care fraud schemes that exploit the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. “The Criminal Division’s Health Care Fraud Unit and our partners are committed to putting an end to pandemic-related fraud and holding accountable anyone seeking to profit from a public health emergency.”
To report a COVID-19-related fraud scheme or suspicious activity, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling the NCDF Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
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