Owner of trucking company indicted for PPP loan scheme

July 14, 2021

Tyson Fisher

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The owner of a California trucking company has been indicted for allegedly defrauding the federal government of hundreds of thousands of dollars in PPP loan funds.

On July 8, Carl Bradley Johansson, 62, of Newport Beach, Calif., was arrested and charged after the Department of Justice filed an indictment. Johansson is being accused of fraudulently obtaining more than $667,000 in Paycheck Protection Program COVID-19 pandemic relief funds for his trucking companies.

According to the indictment, Johansson applied for a PPP loan in April 2020 for his company Western Distribution, based in Ontario, Calif. He received a loan for more than $436,000 to be used to pay salaries for 21 employees. However, the employees mentioned in the loan application did not work for the company.

Johansson placed those individuals on Western Distribution payroll despite the fact they did not work there. Rather, they worked for other companies that Johansson owned and failed to mention in the loan application. Additionally, Johansson had his son falsely listed as the owner.

Funds from that PPP loan were spent in May and June 2020, mostly on expenses not related to the payroll. In fact, not only did Johansson not use the loan to keep employees on staff, but he ended up laying off most the company’s employees, only to rehire most of them later that year.

Making matters worse, Johansson added his two sons on the payroll after receiving the PPP loan, making them the only employees on the payroll from April through August 2020.

Johansson filed for another PPP loan in April 2020. This time he was asking for nearly $300,000 for his Merced County-based business that is only identified as Company A in court documents. Despite Johansson and his wife having control of the company, Johansson’s 85-year-old mother was listed as the owner in the loan application.

Part of the scheme involved moving 21 employees of Company A onto Western Distribution’s payroll, which Johansson executed in September. At that time, the 24-week period for spending PPP loan funds was closing in. When considered for loan forgiveness in January, Johansson was able to falsely show that he met the requirement of using at least 60% of the loan on payroll. However, Company A was actually paying those employees, not funds from the loan. Johansson’s son received more than double the pay of the next highest paid employee on the payroll.

After successfully defrauding the PPP loan system, Johansson repeated the same scheme with Western Distribution by applying for another loan for more than $230,000. That loan also was approved. He was eventually caught after fraudulently obtaining nearly $668,000 in loans. If convicted, Johansson would face a statutory maximum sentence of 70 years in federal prison.

Not Johansson’s first DOJ indictment

Johansson is no stranger to the U.S. Department of Justice. Along with two other individuals and two trucking companies, he is currently facing charges filed more than three years ago.

In April 2018, Johansson; Enrique Garcia; Donald Spicer; National Distribution Services Inc., Corona, Calif.; and Wholesale Distribution Inc., Corona; were indicted on charges related to a fatal explosion that occurred on May 6, 2014. In that incident a National Distribution Services welder was dismembered and killed and another welder seriously injured after a cargo tanker exploded. Johansson owned both of the trucking companies.

The incident was a result of illegally repairing cargo trucks. According to an affidavit from a U.S. Department of Transportation special agent, National Distribution Services was not a cargo tank shop or repair facility registered with the DOT. Per federal regulations, cargo tank repairs are to be conducted only by a manufacturer or repair facility holding a National Board Certificate of Authorization “R” Stamp or a valid American Society of Mechanical Engineers “U” Stamp.

That case is still pending. For more details about the case, click here. LL

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Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.