Four Michigan residents, including three from Oakland County, face federal charges alleging a wire fraud scheme involving millions of dollars in COVID relief.
The United States Department of Justice announced on September 28 that the alleged program uses the Paycheck Protection Program for loans and economic disaster loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the CARES Act. (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security).
The defendants are Antonio George, 45, from Novi, Sarah Vidal, 31, from Novi, Andrae Sims, 43, from Farmington Hills and Kevin Womble, 37, from Detroit. As noted in court documents, George allegedly attempted to secure some $ 4.1 million in PPP and EIDL funds through loan applications submitted on behalf of 16 companies. George, along with the three other defendants, allegedly provided false and misleading documents related to business operations and company payroll to support fraudulent loan applications.
The four are each charged with conspiracy to commit electronic fraud. George, a tax preparer, is also charged with three counts of assisting and assisting in the preparation of false and fraudulent returns for activities related to his tax preparation business.
The convictions could put George up to 29 years in prison. Vidal, Sims and Womble face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
George, Sims and Womble were scheduled to appear in federal court in Detroit for the first time on September 28, with Vidal scheduled to appear in the same court on September 29.
The FBI, the Office of the Inspector General of the Small Business Association and the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS are investigating the case. Attorney General Patrick Suter of the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division and Assistant US Attorney John Neal of the Eastern District of Michigan are handling the case.