A 59-year-old Temecula man accused of using hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal COVID relief money to purchase luxury items and conduct other illegal transactions was arrested Wednesday on federal wire fraud charges.
Oumar Sissoko was taken into custody by FBI agents and is slated to make his initial appearance at U.S. District Court in Riverside Thursday on four counts of wire fraud detailed in a grand jury indictment returned on April 13.
Sissoko is being held without bail at a federal detention facility in San Bernardino County.
In May 2020, the defendant procured $7.25 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Sissoko’s application stated that he intended to use the money to preserve his company, Road Doctor California LLC, which was about to hire 450 workers with an aggregate monthly payroll of $2.9 million, prosecutors said.
“Sissoko acknowledged the funds would be used to retain workers, maintain payroll, or make mortgage interest payments, lease payments and utility payments,” according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office statement.
Only days after receiving the federal disbursal, Sissoko went on a spendng binge, purchasing a $100,000 automobile, buying a $6,000 computer and putting $100,000 toward amortizing the outstanding balance on a luxury sedan he had owned for an unknown period, the indictment alleges.
“The impermissible uses also included a non-refundable down payment of approximately $100,000 to purchase a company located in New Hampshire, and the attempted transmission of approximately $150,000 to accounts in the African nation of Mauritania associated with a minerals exploration company for which Sissoko purports to serve as CEO,” according to the indictment.
The case was investigated by the FBI, as well as inspectors from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
If convicted, the defendant could face up to 80 years in federal prison.
Roughly $650 billion in PPP funds were made available for business relief under the CARES Act.
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