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Former local bar owner charged with fraud in federal PPP fund case

The Department of Justice says Keith Anton Johnson, 44, submitted false payroll information to receive $123,500 in PPP funds
Southerns is a live music venue that operates at Post Oak Mall in College Station, Texas.
Southerns is a live music venue that operates at Post Oak Mall in College Station, Texas.(KBTX)
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 10:28 AM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - A Bryan resident and business owner has been federally charged with one count of wire fraud after authorities say he fraudulently received Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funds.

According to the indictment, Keith Anton Johnson, 44, submitted false payroll information that was required to get $123,500 in PPP funds as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Johnson and others owned and operated KJR Entertainment Holdings, LLC. from January 2020 through July 2020. KJR Entertainment primarily operated Southerns, a College Station bar and live music venue.

“Johnson allegedly submitted required payroll information purporting to be that of current employees to justify the basis for a PPP loan. On these forms, he allegedly attested to an employee’s current status when, in fact, the one-time employee had quit in January 2020,” according to the indictment.

PPP application forms also ask if the applicant has any criminal charges. Johnson answered “no” on the form, even though he is currently facing charges in Harris County for aggravated theft. Harris County constables arrested Johnson at his Brazos County home in July 2019 on aggravated theft charges. He’s accused of taking nearly $350,000 from at least six people who hired him to do contractor work in the Houston-area. At least two of the alleged victims were affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Johnson is set to make his first appearance in court on Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam Sheldon. If convicted, Johnson could face up to 20 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

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