Baker Woman Sentenced to Federal Prison for Wire Fraud and Making False Statements in Connection with CARES Act COVID-19 Pandemic Assistance | USAO-MDLA

US Attorney Ronald C. Gathe, Jr. announced that US Chief Justice Shelly D. Dick sentenced 44-year-old Chanda Hall of Baker, Louisiana, to 26 months in prison following her conviction of wire fraud and false testimony. Upon release from custody, Hall will serve two years of supervised release. The court further fined Hall $5,000, $25,000 in damages to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and a $25,000 fine to the United States.

According to the facts presented at trial, the SBA is a United States government agency that supports entrepreneurs and small businesses. The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on or about March 2020 to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who have been suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, the CARES Act expanded the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which provides loans to small businesses and other eligible entities.

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In May 2020, Hall submitted her first EIDL application. Although she filed the application on behalf of a company she founded in 2010, the company’s registration with the Secretary of State for Louisiana had been revoked in 2015, and when Hall filed that application, the company had not yet been reinstated and had no bank account. On June 16, 2020, the SBA rejected the application.

The very next day, June 17, 2020, Hall filed another application on behalf of a supposedly non-profit corporation, the First Home Foundation (“First Home”), which she founded earlier in the year. Hall signed the application and certified that all the information provided was true. In the filing, Hall stated, among other things, that: (a) First Home was incorporated in 2017; (b) as of January 31, 2020, First Home had five employees; (c) First Home’s 2019 gross revenue was $60,000; and (d) First Home’s cost of goods sold for the same twelve-month period was $30,000. When asked if she had been convicted or found guilty of a crime in the past five years, Hall claimed she had not.

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As Hall knew at the time, all of the above statements were false. As the United States proved in court, First Home did not have the income or expenses that Hall claimed in her application, and Hall had misrepresented her criminal record, which included a recent felony conviction. Additionally, as the United States proved in court, Hall had multiple opportunities to withdraw the application or state that she had misunderstood the application process, and she repeatedly provided false information and lied to those charged with investigating her application.

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Hall was convicted after a June 2022 trial, and at the sentencing hearing, the court specifically found that she had obstructed the judiciary in investigating and prosecuting the case, including by making false testimony at the trial.

This matter was investigated by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Small Business Administration-Office of Inspector General and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan A. Stevens, who also serves as Senior Litigation Counsel and Caroline B .Gardner.

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