Georgia – A former Georgia Democratic political candidate and prospective politician has been convicted of defrauding the federal government of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds, a damage that reportedly exceeds $7 million. The COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force started the investigation into Shelitha Robertson, currently an attorney, following a suspicion of Robertson’s fraudulent activities. The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed in a press release that the suspect was officially convicted earlier this month.
So, what exactly prosecutors learned?
Last week, a federal court in Georgia found a lawyer and ex-police officer guilty of fraud to get over $7 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Shelitha Robertson, 62, from Georgia, was involved in applying for these loans for her four businesses. The applications she made for these funds were not correct, showing more employees and higher pay than there really were, which meant she got more money than she should have.
Robertson, with another person, also used fake tax papers to back up these lies in the loan applications. She spent this money on luxury lifestyle like a very expensive diamond ring worth $148,000, bough herself a Rolls Royce, a motorbike, and gave some of the many to her closest family and the person who helped her.
The court decided she was guilty of planning to commit wire fraud, doing wire fraud three times, and money laundering once. Robertson could get up to 20 years in jail for each wire fraud charge and up to 10 years for money laundering. Her sentencing is planned for April 11, 2024. The judge will look at the guidelines and laws to decide her punishment.
Robertson is the second defendant to be convicted as part of the Justice Department’s prosecution of an approximately $15 million PPP fraud conspiracy. Robertson’s co-conspirator pleaded guilty prior to trial.
Trial Attorney Ariel Glasner of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bernita Malloy for the Northern District of Georgia are prosecuting the case.
The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is in charge of dealing with scams that misuse the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Since the CARES Act started, they have taken legal action against more than 200 people in over 130 cases. They’ve also grabbed more than $78 million gotten from PPP funds through fraud. This includes a lot of cash, houses, and expensive things bought with this money. For more details, you can visit their website at www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/ppp-fraud.
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In May 2021, the Attorney General set up the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force. This team combines the Justice Department’s efforts with other government agencies to fight and stop fraud related to the pandemic. The task force focuses on finding and prosecuting the worst criminals, both in the U.S. and abroad, who are involved in these scams. It also helps agencies managing relief programs to prevent fraud. They do this by improving existing ways of working together, finding new methods to spot fraudsters and their tricks, and using information from past law enforcement actions.
For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.