Camden County woman admits fraudulently obtaining 30 loans to help small businesses during COVID-19 pandemic | USAO-NJ
CAMDEN, NJ – A Camden County, New Jersey resident today admitted to conspiring to fraudulently obtain 30 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Disaster Loan (EIDL) loans. totaling more than $3 million, and for laundering the proceeds, U.S. Attorney Philip R Seller’s ad.
Rhonda Thomas, 38, of Sicklerville, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Karen M. Williams to an information charging her with one count of conspiracy to bank fraud and one count of money laundering. ‘silver.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) is a federal law enacted in March 2020 and was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering from the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 19. One of the sources of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of hundreds of billions of dollars in small business forgivable loans for job retention and certain other expenses, through the PPP. The CARES Act also authorized the Small Business Administration to provide an EIDL of up to $2 million to eligible small businesses that were experiencing significant financial disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To obtain a PPP or EIDL loan, an eligible small business had to submit an application and provide information about its operations, including the number of employees and expenses. In addition, companies generally had to provide supporting documents.
In 2020 and 2021, Thomas submitted at least 10 PPP applications and three EIDL applications for companies she controlled. She told lenders her businesses had employees and payroll expenses they didn’t. In fact, many of his businesses were nominal businesses with no employees or payroll charges.
Thomas also conspired with other alleged business owners to submit at least 20 fraudulent PPP and EIDL loan applications. She prepared and submitted these loan applications, which falsely stated the number of employees, payroll and business expenses.
Thomas falsified tax forms and altered bank statements she submitted to lenders as part of loan applications.
Based on Thomas’ misrepresentations, lenders approved about 30 PPP and EIDL loans and disbursed more than $3.1 million in federal COVID-19 emergency relief funds to struggling small businesses in Thomas and to his conspirators. Thomas has personally received over $330,000 from lenders based on the fraudulent loan applications for his businesses and received kickbacks of over $700,000 from other business owners for his role in preparing and submitting fraudulent loan applications.
Thomas used the fraudulently obtained PPP and EIDL loan proceeds to pay for his personal expenses. In March 2022, Thomas withdrew approximately $60,000 of cash loan proceeds from a Camden County credit union.
The bank fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The money laundering charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or double the gross gain or loss of the offense, whichever is greater. higher. As part of his guilty plea, Thomas agreed to return the full amounts of the PPP and EIDL loans. Sentencing is scheduled for November 1, 2022.
US Attorney Sellinger credited Special Agents from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General, under Patricia Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Regional Office; Social Security Administration Special Agents, Office of Inspector General, New York Field Division, under Special Agent in Charge Sharon MacDermott; special agents of the FBI’s South Jersey Resident Agency, under Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire in Philadelphia; Special Agents of the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, New York Region, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Mellone, the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel A. Friedman of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden and Senior Litigation Counsel Jason M. Richardson of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden.