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Nevada parolee sentenced in Oregon for COVID relief fund fraud

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(The Center Square) – A Nevada man with a long criminal record received a federal prison sentence this week for stealing more than $163,000 in coronavirus relief program funds while on supervised release for two different state criminal convictions.

Justin David Goulet, a 36-year-old from Las Vegas, Nevada, received a 27-month federal prison sentence plus three years’ supervised release. He must also pay $163,100 in restitution to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), according to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Goulet was released from Oregon State Prison in December 2020 after finishing concurrent sentences for felony forgery and theft.

However, about four months after being released from prison, Goulet designed a plan to defraud SBA of funds appropriated by Congress to aid businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. He applied for two Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and got one worth $163,100.

Goulet registered a straw company called Statement Venture Group, LLC, and falsely claimed the company did business while he was imprisoned in 2019. He also submitted fake tax filings; that included one supposedly created by a New York accounting firm showing large revenues and payrolls.

Goulet used most of the money he fraudulently obtained on travel, living expenses, cars, and illegal drugs.

However, a federal grand jury in Portland issued an indictment against Goulet in February 2022, charging him with wire fraud. He pleaded guilty in August 2022.

The SBA Office of Inspector General and the FBI investigated the case; Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, prosecuted it.

Over 50 people in Oregon have been charged with fraud targeting federal coronavirus relief programs since January 2021. These people tried to steal over $778 million in federal funds. So far, 23 people have been convicted for their crimes and sentenced to 477 months in federal prison, plus 894 months of probation or supervised release.

Coronavirus relief fraud has been widespread nationwide. The Small Business Administration says it disbursed over $200 billion in potentially fraudulent coronavirus relief, meaning that at least 17% of all relief funds went to possibly fraudulent actors.

Those with information on potential coronavirus relief fraud can report it to the Justice Department’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or by visiting https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.