Texas and Maryland women arrested for COVID-19 relief fraud | USAO-WDNY

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, NY-U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Brandie S. Williams, 41, of Dallas, Texas, and Brittany L. Herbert, 35, of Brandywine, Maryland, have been arrested and charged with ‘one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of bank fraud. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura A. Higgins, and Cory E. Jacobs and Jennifer L. Bilinkas of the Criminal Fraud Division, who are handling the case, said the complaint, between May 2020 and June 2021, Williams and Herbert conspired with Adam Arena and Amanda Gloria, and others, to fraudulently obtain and abuse several COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) emergency relief loans, including:

• Williams, Herbert and Gloria worked together to fraudulently obtain a $290,000 loan for William’s business, Beyond the Next Level, Inc. After receiving the PPP loan, Williams did not use the funds for any purpose. legitimate business. For example, she transferred $10,000 to Amanda Gloria’s daughters’ bank accounts, $11,953.10 to a business account controlled by Amanda Gloria, and $21,953.10 to an account controlled by co-defendant Herbert.

• Williams, Herbert, Gloria and Arena worked together to fraudulently obtain a loan of approximately $954,000 for Arena’s business, ADA Auto Group. After the PPP loan proceeds were transferred to an account controlled by Arena, he engaged in a series of financial transactions, including for his own personal benefit, for the benefit of Gloria, and for the benefit of others.

• Williams, Herbert and Gloria worked together to fraudulently obtain at least 42 additional loans for at least 31 entities owned by other people, asking for a total of approximately $10,200,000. This resulted in Herbert and Gloria personally receiving at least around $383,000. The defendants submitted false and fraudulent documents to support the loan applications, including falsified salary expenses, fraudulent bank statements and fabricated federal income tax returns.

Adam Arena and Amanda Gloria have previous convictions and are awaiting sentencing.

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering from the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. . One of the sources of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of up to $349 billion in small business forgivable loans for job retention and certain other expenses, through the PPP. . In April 2020, Congress authorized over $300 billion in additional PPP funding.

The PPP allows small businesses and other eligible organizations to receive loans with a term of two years and an interest rate of 1%. PPP loan proceeds are to be used by businesses for payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent and utilities. PPP allows for the interest and principal of the PPP loan to be forgiven if the business spends the loan proceeds on these expenses within a specified time after receiving the proceeds and uses at least a certain percentage of the PPP loan proceeds on the expenses. wages. .

The Fraud Section leads Justice Department prosecutions of fraud schemes that exploit the CARES Act. In the months since the CARES Act was passed, Fraud Section attorneys have prosecuted more than 100 defendants in more than 70 criminal cases. The Fraud Section also seized over $65 million in cash from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous real estate and luxury items purchased with these proceeds. More information can be found at: https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/cares-act-fraud.

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

The criminal complaint is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Stephen Belongia; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under Special Agent in Charge Thomas Fattorusso; the United States Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division, under Chief Inspector Ketty Larco-Ward; and the Office of the Inspector General of Social Security Administration, under Special Agent in Charge Sharon B. MacDermott, New York Field Division.

The fact that an accused has been charged with a crime is simply an accusation and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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