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Knoxville man sentenced to 18 months in prison for fraud related to COVID-19 relief funds

Authorities said James Waylon Howell, 39, fraudulently applied for $154,700 worth of PPP and EDIL loans under the names of two businesses.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knoxville man will spend 18 months in prison after a judge sentenced him for defrauding programs that provided COVID-19 relief funds for businesses.

The Attorney General's Office said Thursday that James Waylon Howell, 39, fraudulently applied for $154,700 worth of loans from the Payment Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program under the names of two businesses. They said the businesses did not qualify for relief funds.

They said that Howell also submitted fake records, including fake records from the IRS, and lied about the number of people the companies employed, the revenue the companies made and wages they paid. They said he also lied about how the loans were intended to be used.

For example, on April 1, 2020, they said he submitted an online application to the Small Business Administration in the name 'Advanced Strategy Holdings, LLC' for $83,800 in EIDL funds. In the application and supporting documents, Howell claimed that the company employed four people and made $700,000 in gross revenue, incurred no costs associated with sold goods, and paid $440,000 in wages. All those claims were fake, according to authorities.

Howell was charged with engaging in more than $150,000 in fraud related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and with committing money laundering.

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