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December 17, 2021Phoenix, AZ, United StatesCovid-19, Financial Crimes

9 Phoenix-area people indicted for payment protection program fraud

Defendants obtained more than $23 million

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Earlier this month, special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) participated in an investigation that lead to the arrests of nine people for financial fraud.

Jason Coleman, 40, and Kimberly Coleman, 38, of Mesa, Arizona, made their initial appearance in federal court recently on a 62-count indictment charging them with Conspiracy, Bank Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Transactional Money Laundering. A federal grand jury previously indicted the Colemans and seven other individuals in connection with a fraudulent scheme to obtain approximately $23 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The nine defendants are accused of then using those PPP funds to purchase vehicles, properties, and other luxurious items.

According to the indictments, from April 2020 through April 2021, the conspirators in this scheme submitted or assisted in submitting PPP loan applications on behalf of 18 businesses, seeking loans between $100,000 and $2.2 million for each company.

In the loan applications, the defendants certified that each business was in operation and had employees for whom it paid salaries and payroll taxes, that the funds would be used to retain workers or make mortgage, lease, or utility payments, and that the information provided in the loan applications was true and accurate.

The indictment further charges Jason and Kimberly Coleman, the married couple conspired to prepare and submit approximately two dozen false and fraudulent PPP loan applications in an attempt to receive more than $30 million in PPP funds. The Colemans were successful in ten of those submissions and fraudulently obtained more than $13 million in PPP funds.

According to the eight other connected indictments, seven defendants conspired to submit eight false and fraudulent PPP loan applications and received more than $10 million in PPP funds. The individuals named in the indictments include:

  • Willie Mitchell aka Blu Mitchell, 40, of Phoenix, Arizona
  • Jason Nolte, 39, of Phoenix, Arizona
  • Sean Swaringer, 56, of Peoria, Arizona
  • Vanessa Swaringer, 54, of Peoria, Arizona
  • Toni Richardson, 52, of Phoenix, Arizona
  • Keenya Williams, 40, of Phoenix, Arizona
  • Darrell Lieteau, 56, of Phoenix, Arizona

These cases were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from HSI, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and the Small Business Administration – Office of the Inspector General.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the District of Arizona, Phoenix, are handling the prosecutions.

Updated: 12/29/2021