Georgian woman sentenced to prison for COVID rescue fraud

ATLANTA (AP) – A Georgian woman has been sentenced to serve nearly three and a half years in federal prison for fraudulently taking more than $ 6 million in COVID relief funds.

Federal prosecutors say Hunter VanPelt, 49, of Roswell, submitted six bogus loan applications to the Paycheck Protection Program from April to June 2020. She requested a total of more than $ 7.9 million and received more than $ 6 million, prosecutors said in a statement. Release.

Prosecutors said VanPelt, who legally changed her name to Ellen Corkrum in July 2016, owned or controlled six companies and lied about the average monthly payroll and number of employees at each company. She also filed false tax, banking and payroll documents with these requests.

The Paycheck Protection Program represents billions of dollars in repayable small business loans for Americans struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s part of the coronavirus relief program that became federal law in 2020.

The federal government was able to recover approximately $ 2.1 million of the money she received.

VanPelt pleaded guilty in August. The three-year and five-month prison sentence she received on Tuesday is to be followed by five years of supervised release. The judge also ordered him to pay over $ 7 million in restitution and lose over $ 2 million.

“The Paycheck Protection Program is intended to help legitimate businesses and their workers navigate the depths of the pandemic,” US Attorney Kurt Erskine said in the statement. “Unfortunately, VanPelt has decided to use the program as her personal bank. A significant federal sentence, like the one she received, hopefully deters others from following the same path.”

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