Misuse of PPP Funds Results in Guilty Verdict for Attorney
A federal jury in the Northern District of Georgia has recently convicted Shelitha Robertson, a Georgia attorney and former City of Atlanta police officer, for fraudulently obtaining more than $7 million in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). During the trial, court documents and evidence showed that Robertson, aged 62, conspired to submit false loan applications for four of her businesses. These applications involved exaggerating the number of employees and monthly payroll figures, which resulted in the approval of larger loans than warranted. Additionally, Robertson and a co-conspirator submitted counterfeit tax documents to further support their deceptive claims.
Robertson used the funds for personal gain, buying extravagant items like a 10-carat diamond ring, as well as transferring money to family members and the co-conspirator. Robertson has been found guilty by the jury on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. The sentencing is set for April 11, 2024, with each wire fraud charge having a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and money laundering carrying a maximum of 10 years.
The Justice Department’s commitment to addressing PPP fraud is evident in its recent prosecution of Robertson, the second defendant found guilty in a $15 million fraud conspiracy. This successful investigation was a result of the collaborative efforts between the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Since the CARES Act was introduced, the Fraud Section of the Justice Department has taken legal action against more than 200 defendants in 130 criminal cases linked to PPP fraud. They have successfully seized over $78 million in fraudulently acquired funds and assets. To further combat pandemic-related fraud, the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force was established in May 2021. If you have any information regarding COVID-19-related fraud, you can report it through the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline.
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