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Five current or former IRS employees charged with defrauding federal COVID-19 relief programs | Takeover bid

Five current or former IRS employees have been charged with schemes to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Disaster Loan Program (EIDL), federal stimulus programs authorized under of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act.

“The IRS employees charged in these cases allegedly abused the trust placed in them by the public,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Criminal Division is committed to upholding that public trust and protecting pandemic relief programs for the American people.”

“This case demonstrates the brazenness with which bad actors have taken advantage of federal programs intended to help those who have suffered the most from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Director Kevin Chambers. “The Department of Justice will continue to work hard to root out PPP and EIDL program fraud, including that committed by government employees.”

According to court documents, the defendants obtained funds under the PPP and EIDL program by submitting false and fraudulent loan applications that collectively demanded more than $1 million. They then used the loan funds for purposes not permitted by the PPP or EIDL program, but instead for cars, luxury goods and personal travel, including trips to Las Vegas.

“These individuals — acting out of sheer greed — abused their positions by taking public funds intended for citizens and businesses in desperate need,” said U.S. Attorney Kevin G. Ritz for the Western District of Tennessee. “I thank our law enforcement partners for rooting out this fraud. Our office will not hesitate to pursue and indict the individuals who steal from the taxpayers of our country.

“The duties of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) include the investigation of allegations of criminal offenses committed by employees of the Internal Revenue Service,” said the Treasury Inspector General for tax administration, J. Russell George. “We will continue to aggressively pursue IRS employees who violate the public trust, safeguarding the integrity of the IRS.”

“It’s especially egregious when people in positions of public trust engage in criminal activity,” said Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware of the Small Business Administration, Office of Inspector General (SBA- OIG). “The OIG is a ready partner to protect the integrity of SBA programs and bring wrongdoers to justice.”

The five people charged are:

  • Brian Saulberry, 46, of Memphis, Tennessee, is charged with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. Saulsberry was employed by the IRS as a program and risk assessment analyst in the Office of Human Capital. According to the indictment, Saulsberry submitted four fraudulent applications to the EIDL program, requesting at least $501,400 in loans from the EIDL program and obtaining $171,400 in loan funds. Saulsberry allegedly spent some of the funds on a Mercedes-Benz and deposited additional funds into a personal investment account.
  • Courtney Quinshe Westmoreland, 38, of Cordova, Tennessee, is charged with three counts of wire fraud. Westmoreland was employed by the IRS as a contact representative in the Department of Payroll and Investment Service Centers. According to the indictment, Westmoreland submitted multiple fraudulent PPP and EIDL program applications on behalf of an alleged clothing company, for which she requested at least $32,500 in loans and obtained $11,500 in loan funds. ready. Westmoreland reportedly used those funds for personal services, including manicures and massages, and to purchase luxury clothing. In addition, while employed full-time by the IRS, Westmoreland allegedly submitted fraudulent claims for unemployment insurance benefits to the Tennessee Department of Labor, in which she falsely claimed that she was not employed by the federal government. According to court documents, Westmoreland fraudulently obtained $16,050 in unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Fatina Hewitt, 35, of Olive Branch, Mississippi, is charged with one count of wire fraud. Hewitt was employed by the IRS as an information technology management and program assistant. According to reports, Hewitt submitted several fraudulent applications to the EIDL program on behalf of an alleged fashion company, requesting $338,900 in loans from the EIDL program and obtaining $28,900 in loan funds. Court documents allege Hewitt spent the loan funds on Gucci clothing and a trip to Las Vegas. On October 4, 2022, Hewitt pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.
  • Roderick DeMarco White II, 27, of Memphis, is charged with one count of wire fraud. White was employed by the IRS as a contact representative in the Department of Payroll and Investment Service Centers. According to the information, White submitted four fraudulent PPP and EIDL program applications on behalf of an alleged clothing company, requesting $113,311 in PPP and EIDL program loans and obtaining $66,666 in loan funds. White allegedly spent the loan funds on personal items, including a Gucci satchel. On August 25, 2022, White pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.
  • Tina Hume, 56, of Memphis, is charged with one count of wire fraud. Humes was employed by the IRS as a senior management and program assistant in the Office of Human Capital. According to the information, Humes submitted four fraudulent PPP and EIDL program applications, requesting $133,812 in loans and obtaining $123,612 in loan funds. Humes reportedly spent the funds on jewelry and trips to Las Vegas. On July 27, 2022, Humes pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and each count of money laundering carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

The TIGTA and SBA-OIG investigated the cases.

Deputy Chief Justin Woodard and Trial Attorneys Sara Porter, Kelly Z. Walters and Thomas D. Campbell of the Gulf Coast Strike Force Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Carroll Andre for the Western District of Tennessee are suing the business.

These cases were brought as part of an interagency effort to combat and prevent CARES Act fraud by federal employees. The initiative is led by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section, U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and agents from TIGTA and SBA-OIG.

The Fraud Section directs the Criminal Division’s prosecution of fraud schemes that exploit the PPP. Since the inception of the CARES Act, the Fraud Section has prosecuted over 150 defendants in over 95 criminal cases and seized over $75 million in cash from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous real estate and luxury items purchased with such a product. More information can be found at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/ppp-fraud.

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 by augmenting and integrating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about 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 through the NCDF’s online complaint form at address https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud /formulaire-de-plainte-en cas-de-catastrophe-ncdf.

An indictment or information is only an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.