Colorado Springs man indicted for COVID relief program fraud


Date: May 6, 2023


DENVER — The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado announces the indictment of Charles James Lacona, Jr., of Colorado Springs for his alleged role in a scheme to defraud COVID Relief Programs.

On March 27, 2020, the President of the United States signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security ("CARES") Act, which provided emergency assistance to small business owners suffering adverse economic effects caused by the Coronavirus ("COVID-19") pandemic. The CARES Act established several new temporary programs and expanded existing programs, including programs created or administered by the SBA. Two sources of funding for small businesses were the Paycheck Protection Program ("PPP") and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans ("EIDL") program.

According to allegations in the indictment, beginning in April 2020, the defendant obtained more than $500,000 in PPP loans on behalf of his company, National Financial Services. The defendant allegedly obtained the loans by inflating payroll costs and gross receipts, and submitting fabricated tax documents and payroll reports. The indictment also alleges the defendant drew a check of $67,704.13 from the loan proceeds to purchase a 2019 Cadillac from a Colorado Springs dealership.

The defendant made his initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Maritza Dominguez Braswell in Federal Court in Denver on May 4, 2023.

The case was investigated by IRS-CI Assistant United States Attorney Craig Fansler is handling the prosecution.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts.

The charges in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.