Springfield Man Given Consecutive Prison Sentence for Covid Relief Fraud

By Benjamin Cox on October 23, 2023 at 6:06am

A Springfield man has been sentenced to nearly 2 years in prison for Covid-19 relief fraud.

33-year old Phillip Lovelace, Jr. of the 1900 block of South Pope Avenue in Springfield was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison this week for wire fraud.

According to federal court documents, Lovelace fraudulently obtained over $40,000 in Paycheck Protection Program funds. Lovelace also fraudulently applied for and received unemployment from the state of Arizona. Lovelace did not have a qualifying business to receive PPP funds, nor was he eligible for unemployment funds from Arizona. At the sentencing hearing, the government presented evidence that Lovelace had spent the proceeds of his fraud on personal expenditures, including dining out, trips, and car rentals. Evidence was also presented that Lovelace had worked with other individuals to fraudulently obtain Covid-19 relief funds.

On June 1st, Lovelace pleaded guilty to one count of Wire Fraud in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen McNaught. On Wednesday of this past week, U.S. District Court Judge Sue Myerscough imposed the 20-month sentence which is to be followed by a 2-year term of supervised release. Lovelace was ordered to pay nearly $49,000 in restitution to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the lender. This sentence will run consecutive to a 10 year sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections for a 2022 assault and robbery on New Year’s Eve in 2021, in which the victim in that case, 57-year old Carl Evans, Jr. eventually died from injuries.

Lovelace was sentenced in the robbery case on October 6th after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

According to the State Journal-Register, Lovelace was indicted for wire fraud along with 5 others in August 2022 for defrauding the PPP loan program, with each of the six individuals receiving a series of PPP loans totaling nearly $21,000 in March and April 2021 from two non-bank lenders; Fountainhead SBF LLC and Harvest Small Business Finance. A study of PPP loans conducted in 2021 by the University of Texas found that Harvest had an exceptionally high rate of suspicious PPP loans that could be fraudulent.

The United States Secret Service investigated the case with assistance from the Springfield Police Department.