Two men charged with defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program were among the 10 suspects in unrelated cases who were apprehended last week as part of the Joliet Police Department’s “Operation New Year’s Resolution.”
Cristian Ambriz, 21, of Elwood, and Maurice Robinson, 46, of Joliet, were arrested on Thursday as part of that operation that involved the arrests of eight other suspects in unrelated cases.
The charges against Ambriz and Robinson were the result of an investigation into fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program activity that is called “Operation Triple P.”
Ambriz was identified as a suspect in the investigation after he was accused of fraudulently obtaining $19,582 in PPP loan funds when he allegedly falsely reported lost revenue for a salon, according to Joliet police Sgt. Dwayne English.
Robinson was identified as a suspect in the investigation after he was also accused of fraudulently obtaining $20,282 in PPP loan funds when he allegedly falsely reported lost revenue for a taxi service, English said.
On Thursday, Ambriz was taken into custody at his Elwood residence while Robinson was taken into custody at his Joliet residence, English said.
At a Sept. 21 press conference, Joliet police officials listed Ambriz and Robinson among 25 suspects were listed charged with defrauding the PPP loan program. The program was established during the COVID-19 pandemic to help struggling businesses make payroll.
As of Sunday, most of those suspects have been booked into jail and some were either already in jail when the charges were filed or they voluntarily surrendered themselves in court. A warrant is still pending for the arrest of Matthew Millirons, 24, according to court records.
The PPP loan fraud investigation was launched in November 2021 by the Joliet Police Department, the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office and the racketeering and fraud division of the U.S Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, English said.
Joliet police also collaborated with the U.S. Marshals Task Force and the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations.
PPP loan fraud occurs when a fraudster sends a falsified application to a bank, the bank sends that request for approval to the federal government and the bank sends the money to the fraudster, according to the website for the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. The committee was created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.