Four Michiganders charged with more than $4M in pandemic relief fraud

Michigan

FILE – In this Nov. 5, 2020, file photo, a booklet describing unemployment benefits is seen on a desk, in North Andover, Mass. Unemployment insurance aid is expiring for millions on the weekend as President Donald Trump holds a pandemic relief package in limbo and gripes about “pork” in the bipartisan legislation passed by Congress. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLNS) — Four Michigan residents were charged today in connection with a wire fraud scheme involving more than $4.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).

The PPP and EIDL loans were guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Court documents state that Antonio George, 45, of Novi, attempted to obtain approximately $4.1 million in PPP and EIDL loans through applications submitted for 16 different companies.

According to a release from the Department of Justice, George, Kevin Womble, 37, of Detroit, Andrae Sims, 43, of Farmington Hills, and Sarah Vidal, 31, of Novi, provided false and misleading documents about certain aspects of the companies’ respective business operations and expenses.

An example alleges that George obtained payroll information that was used to support a PPP loan application submitted on behalf of an unrelated entity and then used the payroll information for false PPP and EIDL loan applications. 

All have been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

George is additionally charged with three counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent returns for conduct related to his tax preparation business.

George will face a maximum total penalty of 29 years in prison if found guilty on all counts.

Womble, Sims and Vidal each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

George, Womble and Sims are set to appear today in the Eastern District of Michigan. Vidal is set to make her initial appearance tomorrow.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Small Business Association – Office of the Inspector General and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation are investigating the case.

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