An Air Force member and his wife lied about owning at least five struggling small businesses to get $ 5.1 million in COVID-19 loans during the pandemic, federal officials in Virginia said.
They managed to steal $ 1.4 million from the government, prosecutors said.
Malik Mitchum, 26, and Jenna Mitchum, 25, both pleaded guilty Jan. 12 to submit several bogus loan applications to acquire the money, a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said the same day.
The couple, who lived in Hampton, were not struggling business owners because “in reality” Malik Mitchum was a junior aviator and his wife was unemployed, prosecutors said. Hampton is 17 miles north of Norfolk, where Norfolk Naval Station is located.
“Sir. 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 illegally obtained 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 spending has been affected by the pandemic, officials said.
In March 2020, the same month the coronavirus pandemic was declared, and until May 2021, the husband and wife submitted at least 19 bogus claims for “pandemic-related loan benefits that contained false claims and false statements about their income, their employment and claimed business entities, ”prosecutors said.
The pair “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 them have been 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.
“The actual sentences for federal crimes are generally less than the maximum sentences,” the press release noted.
The court could impose “financial penalties” alongside the restitution, according to court documents.
Regarding the $ 1.4 million, Broccoletti said Malik Mitchum has “already taken steps to reimburse the full amount and is dedicated to accomplishing this task.”
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