‘Career criminal’ gets prison time for Paycheck Protection Program fraud
MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Timothy Sharon Andrews on Friday was the latest convicted felon to stand before a judge to be sentenced for defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program.
Unlike two other recent defendants, though, Andrews will spend some time in prison.
U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose sentenced Andrews, 42, of Prichard, to 18 months behind bars for that offense, plus an additional 2½ years for violating the terms of his supervised release on a drug conviction. She also ordered him to pay $23,333 to the Small Business Administration and the bank that processed his loan under COVID-19 relief program.
Federal prosecutors sought a sentence of 2½ years in prison for the new offense, citing the defendant’s criminal record and his attempt to minimize criminal conduct he admitted to as part of the current case.
“Andrews’s history indicates that he is a career criminal and recidivist who failed to capitalize on the opportunity that this Court afforded him when it released him early from a prior lengthy prison sentence,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Roller wrote in a sentencing memo. “He now refuses to own up to key aspects of his criminal conduct despite his contrary sworn admissions. His actions, which demonstrate an acute need for specific deterrence and incapacitation, warrant a significant sentence.
Andrews pleaded guilty in December to making false statements to the Small Business Administration. He admitted that he submitted a pair of fraudulent applications in January and February 2021 under the COVID-19 relief program intended to help businesses survive the pandemic.
A judge sentenced Andrews in 2008 to 25 years in prison on a crack cocaine conspiracy charge. But DuBose, in light of a First Step Act signed by then-President Donald Trump, changed the penalty to time served in 2019 and ordered him released from prison. Since December 2019, he has been supervised by the U.S. Probation Office.
In the first application, Andrews falsely claimed to be the sole proprietor of a “trucking services” business that he claimed to have established in January 2019 – eight months before he got out of prison. He falsely claimed income of $120,100 and provided a false Social Security number, according to his plea agreement.
The Small Business Administration turned down the application.
“Undeterred, Andrews tried again on February 8, 2021,” Roller wrote. “That day, he submitted a fraudulent PPP loan application again listing the false social security number.”
In the second application, Andrews claimed to have founded a “janitorial services” business in 2018 with $128,360 income during tax year 2019. This time – despite the fact that he was in prison when the company purportedly began operating and despite the rejection of his first application – the Small Business Administration approved the loan and sent him $20,833.
Andrews wired all but $33 to a Wells Fargo branch on Moffett Road in Mobile.
After pleading guilty, Andrews argued that he should not be held accountable for using someone else’s Social Security number because someone else submitted the applications on his behalf and inadvertently switched two of the digits.
The claim is “factually and legally baseless,” Roller argued.
“Notwithstanding his current contrary position, Andrews’s true and correct social security number did not appear anywhere on the application paperwork,” he wrote.
Roller later added: “His suggestion that some other unnamed person filed the applications for him and innocently transposed the numbers strains credulity and finds no support in the records. It is also utterly at odds with the admissions he made under oath as part of his guilty plea.”
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