SAVANNAH, Ga. (WRBL) – A Georgia resident was indicted on several charges alleging his participation as the leader of a conspiracy to obtain federal COVID-19 relief funding illegally.
Bernard Okojie, 40, of McDonough, Georgia, is charged with Conspiracy to Commit Wire and Bank Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Money Laundering Conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney David H. Estes.
The charges carry statutory penalties of up to 30 years in prison, up to $1 million in financial penalties, and up to five years of supervised release after completion of a prison term.
The indictment alleges that Okojie used information for companies that did not exist to file fraudulent applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for himself and others from May 2020 to January 2021, requesting millions in COVID-19 relief funds.
Okojie is accused of receiving the funding directly or receiving payment from other funding recipients obtained through Okojie’s fraudulent filings. Okojie is also charged with conspiring to launder the illegally obtained funding.
Okojie appeared for his initial hearing in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Georgia but will be prosecuted in the Southern District of Georgia.
The FBI and the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General are investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan A. Porter and Patrick J. Schwedler will prosecute the case for the United States.