Airman and wife lie to get $5.1m in COVID loans: Feds
An Air Force member and his wife lied about owning at least five struggling small businesses to secure $5.1 million in COVID-19 loans during the pandemic, federal officials in Virginia have said.
They managed to steal $1.4 million from the government, according to prosecutors.
Malik Mitchum, 26, and Jenna Mitchum, 25, both pleaded guilty on January 12 to submitting multiple false loan applications to acquire the money, a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the same day. for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Prosecutors say the couple, who lived in Hampton, did not own a struggling business because “in reality” Malik Mitchum was a young airman and his wife was unemployed. Hampton is 17 miles north of Norfolk, where Naval Station Norfolk is located.
“Mr. Mitchum has accepted responsibility for his errant actions and has expressed remorse for the events that led to him and his wife being sued in federal court,” the couple’s attorney, James Broccoletti, told McClatchy News in a press release.
They spent the money they obtained illegally on “luxury” items, such as a $38,743 Rolex watch, according to the press release. As a result, they face a maximum of 30 years in prison.
They intended to secure more than $5.1 million in loans for small business owners whose expenses have been affected by the pandemic, officials said.
In March 2020, the same month the coronavirus pandemic was declared, and through May 2021, the husband and wife submitted at least 19 false claims “for pandemic-related loan benefits that contained false statements and false statements about their income, employment and claimed business entities,” prosecutors said.
The couple “formed fictitious business entities,” naming them “Alpha 2 Omega Logistics, Southern by the Belle, A20 Auto Brokers, Pure Pressure and Day and Night Trucking,” according to court documents obtained by McClatchy News.
“All of this was used to fraudulently apply for loans under the ‘Economic Disaster Loan Program and Paycheck Protection Program.’
Malik and Jenna Mitchum’s sentencing date is July 29, prosecutors said.
“Actual sentences for federal crimes are generally lower than maximum sentences,” the press release said.
The court could impose “monetary penalties” alongside restitution, according to court documents.
Regarding the $1.4 million, Broccoletti said Malik Mitchum has “already taken steps to repay the full amount and is dedicated to completing that task.”
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