East Tennesseans accused of fraud in Paycheck Safety loans – Tennessee Lookout

An East Tennessee lady who was already on probation in a federal fraud case is now accused of duping  the Small Enterprise Administration into awarding her a Paycheck Safety Program mortgage for a pretend enterprise and utilizing the cash to get cosmetic surgery in Florida and spend per week recovering on the Trump Worldwide Seashore Resort, courtroom data present.

Leslie Danielle Bethea, 40, of Surgionsville, Tenn., has been indicted in U.S. District Court docket on expenses of wire fraud and cash laundering in reference to a mortgage she secured underneath an $800 billion Covid aid plan approved by Congress to assist small enterprise homeowners to proceed paying their staff in the course of the pandemic.

In line with the indictment, Bethea filed pretend tax paperwork with the Small Enterprise Administration in March 2021 to safe a PPP mortgage for $20,805.

“On the digital software … Leslie Bethea fraudulently acknowledged that she was a sole proprietor of a advertising and marketing consulting companies enterprise that grossed $99,865 a 12 months when, in reality and reality as she properly knew, Leslie Bethea had no enterprise that grossed that sum,” U.S. Secret Service Senior Particular Agent Thomas Whitehead wrote in a legal grievance.

“Leslie Bethea fraudulently acknowledged that throughout the final 5 years, she had not been convicted, pled responsible to or commenced any type of parole or probation for fraud,” Whitehead wrote. “The truth is, Leslie Bethea pled responsible to and was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud on Sept. 26, 2019 … (and) was actively serving a time period of supervised launch for that conviction on the time of the digital software.”

Bethea was on federal probation for id theft and for creating pretend bank cards when she duped the U.S. Small Enterprise Administration into giving her a Paycheck Safety Program mortgage for a pretend enterprise.

Whitehead stated within the grievance that Bethea was awarded the PPP mortgage with out query and deposited the mortgage proceeds into her Knoxville checking account. She then used that cash to journey to Aventura, Fla., in April 2021.

Whereas in Aventura, Bethea “obtained elective beauty surgical procedure companies totaling $5,500” from Dolls Plastic Surgical procedure over a three-day interval, Whitehead’s grievance acknowledged. The agent didn’t disclose particulars of that surgical procedure within the grievance.

Bethea spent 5 days on the Trump Worldwide Seashore Resort, a luxurious resort in Sunny Isles, Fla., whereas recovering from the surgical procedure, utilizing the Covid aid plan mortgage to pay the $2,834 tab, the agent wrote.

The agent wrote that Bethea lied to the U.S. Probation Workplace throughout that very same time interval, claiming “her solely month-to-month money influx for April 2021 was $200 from her ex-husband … (and) acknowledged ‘none’ when requested to determine any expenditures in April 2021 that exceeded $500.”

one other ppp mortgage fraud

“Bethea acknowledged that she didn’t journey outdoors the district (of East Tennessee) with out permission in April 2021, though she had traveled to Florida to obtain elective cosmetic surgery and stayed at a luxurious resort in Florida for 5 days utilizing proceeds from the fraudulently obtained PPP mortgage,” Whitehead wrote.

Bethea was on federal probation after serving a two-year jail time period for her position in a 2018 fraud ring during which she and “unindicted co conspirators” stole the identities of dozens of individuals, used “plastic card embossing machines” to create bank cards utilizing these purloined identities and used these bank cards to pay for greater than 100 flights all through the U.S., resort payments, restaurant journeys and procuring sprees, courtroom data present.

FBI: Drug vendor bought COVID money too

Bethea just isn’t the one East Tennessee felon to now be accused of conning the Small Enterprise Administration and defrauding the Covid aid plan the company administered, data present.

Antonio Dewayne Menifee, a convicted drug vendor from Chattanooga, can also be accused of submitting pretend varieties to the company to garner a PPP mortgage for a nonexistent development agency in April 2021. When brokers in September 2021 sought to execute a search of Menifee’s residence as a part of an investigation into the $11,485 PPP mortgage he obtained, they found cocaine, a stolen gun, ammunition, plastic baggies used to package deal medication, digital scales used to weigh medication and $15,000 in drug cash, FBI Agent Coley Vincent Warner wrote in a legal grievance.

Menifee was convicted in 2002 in U.S. District Court docket in Chattanooga of conspiracy to promote cocaine and weapons. He served roughly a decade behind bars earlier than he was launched however later wound up repeatedly violating the phrases of his probation through the use of medication, mendacity to authorities and threatening violence in opposition to his spouse, data present.

drug vendor ppp mortgage fraud indictment

Menifee was ordered again to jail in 2017 because of these violations and served one other 27 months. It’s not clear from the courtroom file whether or not he was nonetheless on federal probation when he sought and gained a PPP mortgage in 2021.

Each Bethea and Menifee at the moment are behind bars awaiting additional courtroom motion of their respective instances.

Their instances are a part of what the Justice Division has known as an “epic swindle” of COVID aid funding that has taken place since Congress started authorizing cash to assist companies and residents impacted by the 2020 pandemic.

An investigation by NBC Information reported final 12 months confirmed as a lot as $80 billion of the $800 billion approved underneath the PPP was doled out to fraudsters within the U.S. and overseas and used to pay for luxurious automobiles, mansions and dear holidays.

Leave a Comment