Desmond Dondre Williams (34, Jasper) Pleads Guilty To COVID Relief Fraud


Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Desmond Dondre Williams (34, Jasper) has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud involving COVID Relief Fraud. Williams faces up to 20 years in federal prison on each count and payment of restitution to the United States government. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court documents, in April 2021, Williams submitted two Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications to two different lenders authorized by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to lend funds for approved PPP loan applications. Both PPP loan applications falsely claimed that Williams operated his own business – “Tastebudz.” Throughout the loan applications Williams made multiple false statements regarding his purported gross income and business expenses associated with operating Tastebudz. In support of his PPP loan applications, Williams submitted a false IRS Form 1040 “Profit or Loss From Business” for Tastebudz. It contained false statements about operating expenses, gross income, and wage expenditures for his purported business. In truth, Tastebudz did not exist. In reliance on the false statements in his two PPP loan applications, the SBA funded a PPP loan for Tastebudz in the amount of $16,386 and a second PPP loan in the amount of $22,941. After receiving the PPP loan proceeds into his bank account, Williams began making withdrawals and spending it on personal expenses.

This case is being prosecuted as part the Department of Justice’s prosecution of fraud schemes that exploit the CARES Act relief programs. The CARES Act is a federal law enacted in March 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the two programs that were developed through CARES Act is the PPP. It provides funding to businesses through PPP loans for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. PPP allows the interest and principal on loans to be forgiven if the business spends proceeds on certain expense items within a designated time and uses a certain percentage of the loan on payroll expenses. The Department of Justice remains vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the crisis.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin C. Frein. The asset forfeiture is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Mai Tran.