Prairieville Woman Sentenced to Federal Prison for Defrauding COVID-19 Relief Program

US Attorney’s Office – Middle District of Louisiana, Dec. 21, 2021

United States Attorney Ronald C. Gathe, Jr. announced that Chief U.S. Judge Shelly D. Dick sentenced April R. Falgoust, age 46, of Prairieville, Louisiana, to 18 months in federal prison following her conviction for wire fraud.  The Court also sentenced Falgoust to serve three years of supervised release following her term of imprisonment, ordered her to pay $147,925.69 in restitution to the United States Small Business Administration, and further ordered her to forfeit an additional $143,800 in proceeds from her crime.

Today’s sentence stems from a series of ongoing investigations into fraud schemes targeting COVID-19 relief funds made available under the CARES Act, including fraud schemes targeting Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds, and other benefits intended to help people and businesses suffering from the economic effects of the pandemic.

In this case, as Falgoust admitted in connection with her guilty plea, she devised a scheme to defraud the U.S. Small Business Administration by filing numerous false and fraudulent applications for EIDL funds.  Specifically, between March 31, 2020 and May 8, 2020, Falgoust filed five fraudulent applications, in the names of the following companies:  “LA Fitness & Tan, LLC,” “FalgouStrong Fitness, LLC,” “Boss Lady Suits,” “Forever the Baddest Makeup,” and “Hemphire Seed & Nutrients.”  In the applications, she misrepresented the companies’ gross revenues, their costs, their number of employees, and the extent to which the companies had been affected by the pandemic, among other misrepresentations.  Based on the defendant’s fraudulent representations, the SBA disbursed approximately $143,800 to the defendant, and the intended loss, including potential loss from fraudulent applications that the defendant submitted but that the SBA did not fund, was approximately $473,000.

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