NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – A New Orleans company applied for and received an almost $ 200,000 Wage Protection Program loan, but a FOX 8 investigation revealed that the company probably had no employees at the time of application.
The Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP) has distributed $ 800 billion in aid to businesses that have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep affected employees’ paychecks safe.
In April 2020, New Orleans-based marketing company Story Block Media applied for and received $ 184,000 in PPP money to save seven jobs. According to the office of the Louisiana Secretary of State, the company is owned by Dennis Lomonaco.
Jack Caulfield knows Story Block Media was down at the time of the April application because his Lomonaco Story Block employees were paid by the NOLA Motorsports Park where she worked.
Caulfield said that shortly after Lomonaco took over as general manager at the park, all Story Block Media employees switched to motorsport salaries.
“So we [NOLA Motorsports Park] having absorbed all their staff, they came to work in the park, ”she said.
FOX 8 confirmed by two other sources that these employees were paid by NOLA Motorsports and not by Story Block Media.
The Story Block Media website has eight employees. We searched each employee’s LinkedIn profile and found that the employees listed on the website were not employed by the company at the time of the PPP application.
We contacted Lomonaco by phone and he said that he follows all the rules when receiving PPP money. FOX 8’s Lee Zurik then elaborated on our Lomonaco results, noting that Story Block had promised the SBA to retain seven employees, and noting that all eight listed employees appeared to have left the company before he applied for PPP money. … When asked for any information that shows Story Block had seven employees or another explanation for how the company could claim the money, Lomonaco replied, “Thanks for submitting this, but I have no comment.”
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Jack Cowfield said she considered Story Block’s receipt of PPP funding unfair as they “did not have a company at the time.”
“You [Lomonaco] were with us on an ongoing basis. You managed our operations, built into our marketing, ”she said.
What FOX 8 revealed is, in the words of Tulane law professor Joel Friedman, “very serious.”
“When the FBI finds out about it, they’ll know when you broadcast it, they’ll go after him,” said Tulane law professor Joel Friedman.
Friedman said the case is potentially exacerbated by the fact that the money was supposed to help businesses across the country struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, a New Orleans businessman may have misused the program to raise taxpayer money that he was not entitled to.
NOLA Motorsports Park said they were not involved in the loan and application for Story Block Media. NOLA Motorsports Park issued the following statement:
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