A March 22 trial date was tentatively set Monday for a 60-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.

Oumar Sissoko, who is free on a $50,000 bond, was indicted last April on four counts of wire fraud.

Sissoko’s case was moved out of U.S. District Court in Riverside to the courtroom of U.S. District Judge John Walter in downtown Los Angeles, and during a status hearing, Walter scheduled trial proceedings to get underway on March 22.

Sissoko was arrested on April 21, 2021, following an investigation by FBI agents, inspectors from the U.S. Small Business Administration and personnel from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., culminating in grand jury proceedings and the indictment.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in May 2020, the defendant procured $7.25 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans offered under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act.

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 binge, allegedly 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, according to prosecutors.

“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.

Court papers did not specify how the defendant’s alleged misappropriations were uncovered.

If convicted, Sissoko 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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