Knoxville woman sentenced to 57 months in prison for defrauding COVID-19 economic relief programs | USAO-EDTN

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Knoxville, Tenn. – On February 24, 2022, Porsha Tims Bush, 42, formerly of Knoxville, Tennessee, was sentenced to 57 months in prison by the Honorable Katherine A. Crytzer, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. in Knoxville.

Bush pleaded guilty to committing more than $540,000 in fraud related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, contrary to 18 USC § 1343. Judge Crytzer ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $471,621. , a $25,000 fine and complete a three-year probation period after his release from prison.

The CARES Act is a federal law enacted in March 2020 to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The two main sources of assistance provided by the CARES Act were the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) and the Economic Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) program. PPP loans consisted of more than $640 billion in small business forgivable loans for payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities. The EIDL program provided low-interest loans to business owners to pay for items such as accounts payable and other bills that could not be paid due to COVID-19.

As stated in the written plea agreement filed with the court, from March 30, 2020 to approximately the end of June 2020, Bush fraudulently applied for 10 loans totaling $547,286 through the PPP and EDIL programs. Bush submitted fraudulent claims under the names of six companies that were ineligible for the COVID-19 relief funds Bush was seeking. Bush submitted nine fraudulent applications to financial institutions seeking PPP funds and one fraudulent application to the Small Business Administration seeking EIDL funds. As part of his fraudulent scheme, Bush submitted false supporting documents, including documents from the Internal Revenue Service, and made false statements about the number of people employed by the companies, the revenues generated and the salaries paid. . Bush also made misrepresentations about the business entities and the intended use of loan proceeds.

Bush then used the fraudulently obtained loan proceeds for unauthorized purposes, including buying clothes and electronics; repay a personal debt; to pay for personal travel; and to finance his daily lifestyle.

For example, according to the plea agreement, on March 30, 2020, Bush submitted an online request to the Small Business Administration on behalf of Enlightenment Family Care, Inc., requesting $150,000 in EIDL funds. On the claim and in the supporting documents Bush submitted to the SBA—all of which were false—Bush claimed that Enlightenment Family Care employed four people, generated $335,651 in gross revenue, incurred $34,500 in cost of goods sold and was paying salaries of $45,651 in the twelve months before the COVID-19 pandemic. Bush fabricated a profit and loss statement to support his misrepresentations.

According to court documents, after pleading guilty in August 2021 and while on bail conditions, Bush submitted bogus Internal Revenue Service forms requesting COVID-19 relief funds for three businesses, none of which was entitled to the requested funds. . Bush admitted to this pre-sentence conduct in this case in a joint stipulation that was filed with the court.

This case is the result of an investigation by the FBI.

Assistant United States Attorney William A. Roach, Jr., who is also the Bureau’s coronavirus fraud coordinator, prosecuted the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF online complaint form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

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