Mississippi businessman accused of stealing $1.25 million in coronavirus aid money

Alexis Juanita

The operator of a Mississippi company is accused in federal court of stealing a lot more than $1.25 million of coronavirus stimulus money.

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Leonard Ohaebosim, the manager of Spite The Motion picture, LLC, is facing fraud charges in Florida that allege he created — out of skinny air— a employees of more than 100 workers in get to invoice the governing administration for coronavirus-relief cash. 



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Federal prosecutors say Ohaebosim then used for and been given more than $1.25 million in funds through the federal CARES Act. The federal stimulus invoice was intended to assist businesses climate the coronavirus pandemic. 

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Movement photograph business registered in Pass up.

Spite The Film bills by itself as a movement photograph and video creation corporation. 

Aside from staying registered in Florida, Ohaebosim is detailed as company manager by the similar identify in Mississippi, according to secretary of point out data.

The business was registered in January of 2020, even though no office tackle was claimed. Curtis Nichouls, who lists a Jackson deal with, is named the registered agent for the business.

Nichouls on Thursday named the allegations versus Spite The Film are “absolutely untrue” and reported the business has over 100 workforce which is common for the manufacturing of a movie. He stated he feared damaging opinions could reduce him from pursuing the movie generation small business in Mississippi. 

Ohaebosim was arrested in his property condition of Texas ahead of his situation was extradited to Dade County in Miami where he now faces untrue statement to a money establishment and lender fraud rates, according to a information release from the U.S. Attorney’s Workplace for the Southern District of Florida.  

Inside of the federal criticism

In the criminal complaint, a senior federal investigator states there is probable cause to believe that Ohaebosim qualified the Tiny Enterprise Administration’s Paycheck Protection System, or PPP.

To apply for the mortgage, small business homeowners are required to state ordinary every month payroll fees, quantity of staff members and other documentation to the bank financing the bank loan. Usually, these figures would correlate to figures reported to the IRS.

Nevertheless, financial institutions and the SBA are not demanded to look at bank loan programs to IRS documents. Even so, Ohabosim presented the banking institutions a fake IRS Form 941, which documents quarterly payroll and federal money tax, in accordance to the grievance.  Prosecutors say the IRS has no information of this Form 941 and allege this is how Ohaebosim in the beginning slipped as a result of the cracks. .

In April, the feds say, Ohaebosim filed fraudulent programs to two banking institutions. In the software, he claimed the enterprise utilized over a 100 employees in February and March and that he compensated an average every month wage of $500,000 to these personnel. 

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Staff unaware of Spite The Movie 

Prosecutors contacted at minimum 5 of the employees stated as operating at Spite The Motion picture. In every scenario, the supposed employees said they never received any funds and have been unaware of the firm. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Berger, who is overseeing the circumstance, wouldn’t give a certain range of how a lot of people today labored at Spite The Movie, but said it was fewer than 10 employees.

The mortgage sum for Spite The Motion picture was authorized on Could 29, according to a Propublica database.  

Berger mentioned the scenario has stalled considering the fact that it was at first put before the court docket in September because of to coronavirus protection measures. He stated the feds will go after the case as soon as a grand jury is authorized to hear the case. 

As of Nov. 18, no lawyer had submitted paperwork with the courtroom to represent Ohaebosim. 

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Independent lawsuit

According to federal courtroom information, Ohaebosim is also currently being sued in Texas by eight former personnel who say he stiffed them out of pay related to yet another movement image and movie generation company, identified as The Freshman Year Movie LLC.

The LLC seems to have been produced as the business enterprise entity behind “The Freshman Yr,” a film that was manufactured in Oct and November of 2019, in accordance to the on line movie web page IMDb. 

The movie is described as a “coming-of-age story about a black kid from the suburbs that activities his freshman yr at an HBCU.”

The former employees, who produced up the manufacturing workers for the film, are suing Ohaebosim for up to $200,000 in wages, the lawsuit states. 

For a listing of all Mississippi providers that acquired federal reduction, go below.  

Correction: A earlier edition of this story improperly recognized Leonard Ohaebosim as the producer of the film “Freshman Year.” Ohaebosim is mentioned as the executive producer of a independent, unrelated film entitled “The Freshman Calendar year.”

Ohaebosim is one of two defendants getting sued in federal court in Texas by 8 previous personnel for unpaid wages, according to court paperwork. “The Freshman Year” has no link to the creation workers or crew of “Freshman Yr.”

Call Justin Vicory at 769-572-1418 or [email protected] Observe @justinvicory on Twitter.

This posting originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Mississippi businessman accused of stealing $1.25 million in coronavirus reduction resources

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