ATLANTA — An Atlanta man out on bond after being charged with intent to distribute cocaine and money laundering has been sentenced to additional prison time for committing Paycheck Protection Program fraud.
Rodriquez Deonte Redding, 38, of Atlanta, was indicted in September 2018 for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and money laundering. He pleaded guilty to those charges on June 2, 2021, according to U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine and court documents. However, the federal government discovered Redding had obtained two PPP loans for a total of $41,666 before pleading guilty in June, Erskine said.
To receive the loans, court documents show Redding claimed to operate a barber and retail business and submitted falsified tax return forms. Then, instead of spending the PPP money on payroll for employees or other business expenses, he spent thousands of dollars at a time on rental cars and shopping, including at Prada and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Redding spent all of the PPP money in less than one month after receiving it.
“It’s shocking that, while under indictment for drug trafficking and money laundering, Redding had the audacity to defraud a program meant to help people and businesses struggling for existence during the pandemic in order to fund his luxury shopping sprees,” Erskine said. “We are grateful to our federal and state law enforcement partners whose efforts brought this defendant to justice.”
Redding has been sentenced to seven years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution to the PPP lenders and the U.S. Small Business Administration in the amount of $46,666. Redding pleaded guilty Jan. 21 in federal court to a criminal information charging wire fraud and was sentenced on both sets of charges in a single hearing.
Erskine said Redding was known to be distributing cocaine in the Atlanta area since 2010. Authorities say Redding would pick up and deliver kilograms of cocaine and bags of cash for other members of his drug trafficking operation and was recorded on bank security cameras making cash deposits into various accounts controlled by the members of his group. He also used wire transfers to move money on behalf of his group, and sometimes, he bought and sold cocaine to his own customers.
To disguise and launder some of his cash profits, Erskine said he purchased a series of luxury cars. Redding is also reported to have convinced his mother and elderly grandmother to purchase the cars in their names.
“The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office is always pleased to collaborate with our federal justice partners, who share our common objective of preserving the safety and quality of life in Fulton County. This particular case involved an intense investigation spanning almost nine years,” Fulton County Sheriff Patrick “Pat” Labat said.