New Yoker Confesses To PPP Fraud

Written by Brian P. Hamachek on 6/16/2021

According to court papers, a Brooklyn man confessed collaborating with another person from Saugerties to receive more than $5.6 million in false loans through the United States government's pandemic assistance program. Sean M. Andre, 31, pled guilty to conspiracy to conduct bank fraud and wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Syracuse on Tuesday. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, his co-conspirator, Jean R. Lavanture, 48, of Saugerties, has been accused on three counts of bank fraud and was detained in September at a New Jersey house he purchased with fraudulent loan money.

According to court papers in their cases, Andre and Lavanture submitted numerous false applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans and one Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration in July and August. The applicants lied about the number of workers and the amount of payroll at their firms, and they were backed up by forged tax documents. According to the state Department of Labor, Lavanture's organizations never had any workers or paid any taxes.

According to the US Attorney's Office, Lavanture paid Andre $157,578 in loan proceeds as reimbursement for drafting the false applications. According to federal prosecutors, the loan money was supposed to help struggling small companies and keep people on the job during the epidemic, but Andre used the loan profits to buy a 2019 Mercedes luxury SUV and move the cash to different personal and company accounts. Lavanture is also accused of using the $4.9 million in loans to buy a hotel in Rockaway Beach, Missouri, and a $1 million home in New Jersey with an 18-room "Tuscan-style" house.

According to the US Attorney's Office, Andre worked as a special inspector for the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York City. Andre has a number of rap music videos on YouTube. According to his Linkedin profile, he is the chairman of the board of SMELifestyle Inc. and the creator of Self Made Entrepreneurs, both of which he received illegal loans for. 

Andre faces up to 30 years in jail under federal law during his sentencing on September 23 in Albany. Lavanture has pled not guilty, and no trial date has been scheduled for him.

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