You are reading

East Elmhurst man sentenced to prison for stealing $1 Million in pandemic relief funds: DA

Queens DA Melinda Katz said an East Elmhurst man was sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison for scamming the feds out of more than $1 million in pandemic relief funds. File photo by Mark Hallum

Jan. 26, 2024 By Bill Parry

An East Elmhurst resident, Papa Diakhate, has been sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison for orchestrating a scheme that involved stealing over $1 million in federal pandemic relief funds through two fraudulent companies based in Jamaica.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz made the announcement Friday. Diakhate, 54, of Astoria Boulevard, pleaded guilty to one count of grand larceny in December.

According to the charges, Diakhate submitted fraudulent loan applications for the Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on behalf of two fictitious businesses, falsely designating himself as the sole owner and claiming they were situated at 162-02 Jamaica Ave. Both of these applications were approved.

Between June 29, 2020, and July 14, 2020, approximately $1.2 million was deposited into Diakhate’s Citibank business accounts. Diakhate, then spent this ill-gotten money on personal indulgences, which included a $14,000 Rolex watch, a $36,874 shopping spree on Amazon, $16,461 at Saks Fifth Avenue, $15,377 at Bergdorf Goodman, $13,626 at Bloomingdale’s, and a hefty $56,247 on travel.

Before Citibank intervened and revoked the loans, Diakhate had already squandered more than $350,000 on these personal expenditures, in direct violation of the loan agreement terms that mandated the funds be used exclusively for business operations. These funds were meant to help retain employees, maintain payroll, or cover essential expenses such as mortgages, leases, and utilities during the pandemic.

“As the height of the pandemic wrought devastating human and economic tolls around the world, especially here in New York,” stated Katz, “the defendant seized an opportunity and shamelessly schemed to profit from the financial hardships inflicted by Covid. He is now being held accountable for his thievery.”

Queens Supreme Court Justice Jerry Iannece handed down a sentence of one to three years in prison to Diakhate.

email the author:
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News


Police from the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood and Transit District 33 are looking for a man who snatched a cell phone from a 15-year-old girl who was onboard a southbound L train last week.

The train had just pulled into the Haley Street subway station in Ridgewood just before 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11, and when the doors opened, the suspect grabbed her iPhone 13 from her hands. The perpetrator fled the station and was last seen running southbound on Halsey Street. The teenager was not injured during the incident. An iPhone 13 is valued at $600 and upwards.


Jun. 17, 2024 By Athena Dawson

Are you a fan of dramatic plays and tear-jerking comedies? Head to Travers Park this Wednesday for a free performance of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, hosted by the Mobile Unit of The Public Theatre.  Located at 78th St. and 34th Ave. in Jackson Heights, the Shakespeare in the Park series will grace Queens’ public stage on June 19th at 6 p.m. for a truly unforgettable performance. The 90-minute play will provide a bilingual English and Spanish adaptation for audience members to enjoy.