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Former Jackson Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Submitting False Covid-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application

Jackson, Mississippi – A Jackson man pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with his submission of a false COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) application.

According to court documents, Wesley Murray, Sr., 54, submitted to the United States Small Business Association ("SBA") a false EIDL application containing material misrepresentations. In reliance on his certification that he would use the EIDL funds for business purposes, the SBA awarded Murray approximately $72,400 in COVID-19 relief funds. Murray acknowledged that he used these funds for purely personal expenses. 

Murray is scheduled to be sentenced on January 10, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

U.S. Attorney Todd W. Gee of the Southern District of Mississippi and Action Inspector General Stephen Ravas of the AmeriCorps Office of Inspector General made the announcement.

The case was investigated by the AmeriCorps Office of the Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly T. Purdie. 

Comptroller of a Non-Profit Corporation in Aguada, PR Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Fraud Scheme

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Margarita Botti-Nieves was sentenced by United States District Court Senior Judge Francisco A. Besosa to serve 24 months in prison followed by a supervised release term of three years, announced United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow. On October 11, 2022, Botti-Nieves was indicted and pleaded guilty to misappropriation of funds, tax evasion, and obstruction of a tax investigation.

Defendant Margarita Botti-Nieves was an employee, accountant, and agent of Programa de Apoyo y Enlace Comunitario, Inc. (“PAEC”). PAEC was a non-profit corporation organized in Puerto Rico which received and administered benefits under various Federal programs involving grants, contracts, and Federal assistance. According to court documents, from in or about September 2016 and continuing until June 2019, the defendant did willfully evade the payment of a substantial portion of the employment taxes owed by PAEC to the United States of America, by committing the following affirmative acts among others: 1) Caused submission of false statements to the IRS. 2) Provided false information and fraudulent documentation to PAEC for purported payments to the IRS which were never made. 3) Caused the preparation of false tax documents that misreported PAEC employees’ tax withholdings. 4) Caused funds to be transferred from PAEC bank account to different accounts defendant controlled in order to divert funds to be used for personal expenses. 5) Caused the tax returns to be filed with the IRS in an attempt to evade and defeat the payment of employment taxes due and owing by PAEC to the United States.

 

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Fraud Alert!

 

The AmeriCorps Office of Inspector General (AmeriCorps OIG) is an independent office within AmeriCorps that provides oversight of the agency's programs and operations to protect the integrity of national service. AmeriCorps OIG performs audits, evaluations and investigations of AmeriCorps, its grantees and contractors, to promote efficiency and effectiveness, and to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse. The Office is staffed with auditors, investigators, attorneys, information technology and other specialists who ensure that we meet our core functions and responsibilities.

Maintaining close working relationships with AmeriCorps and its awardees help us focus our efforts on priority areas and facilitate our proactive educational efforts.  The Office consults AmeriCorps in developing plans and obtains agency feedback on reports before they are issued. Semiannually, AmeriCorps OIG submits a summary report of its activities to the Congress and AmeriCorps leadership.

 

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Recent Activity

AmeriCorps’ Compliance with the Payment Integrity Information Act of 2019 for Fiscal Year 2023

Report Number
OIG-AR-24-04

The Payment Integrity Information Act (PIIA) requires agencies to annually review and identify programs and activities that may be susceptible to significant improper payments, estimate the improper payment rates in agency programs, and report on their actions to reduce and recover those payments. We found that AmeriCorps implemented corrective actions that improved its compliance with PIIA reporting requirements relative to past years. For FY 2023, AmeriCorps met eight of ten PIIA compliance requirements. We made three findings relating to the two remaining requirements.

Audit

AmeriCorps Recouped $2,825 from Funds Misallocated to a Former Commission Employee

Report Number
Case ID 2019-023

The AmeriCorps Office of Inspector General (AmeriCorps OIG) investigated allegations that the former Executive Director (ED) of the Volunteer and Community Service Commission of Puerto Rico (Commission) attempted to use AmeriCorps funds to award a sole-source contract to a close friend, required prayers before AmeriCorps events, and requested subgrantees allow AmeriCorps members to perform service outside the scope of their grant.

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