WV Press Release Sharing
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia State Auditor JB McCuskey applauds the work of his investigators within the Public Integrity and Fraud Unit (PIF-U) for helping to secure a conviction in a COVID-19 relief fraud scheme.
Imeesha Bradley, 27, of South Charleston, pleaded guilty in United States District Court to receipt of stolen money. Bradley admitted to a scheme to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of $18,703 in COVID-19 relief loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
According to court documents and statements made in court, on April 21, 2021, Bradley applied for a PPP loan for her purported business, “Imeesha Bradley.” Bradley admitted that “Imeesha Bradley” was never engaged in legitimate business activity and was not a registered business entity at the time she applied for the loan. Bradley further admitted that she falsely represented that her fictitious business received $89,772 in gross income during 2020.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, The CARES Act, enacted in March 2020, offered emergency financial assistance to Americans suffering from the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This assistance included forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses through the Paycheck Protection Program. Businesses applying for PPP loans had to certify that the business was in operation on February 15, 2020 and were required to provide documentation showing their prior gross income from either 2019 or 2020.
A lender approved Bradley’s fraudulent PPP loan application for $18,703 and transferred the funds to Bradley’s personal bank account on May 10, 2021. Bradley admitted that she withdrew $5,000 of the stolen funds that day and an additional $7,000 on May 14, 2021, each time from a bank branch in Nitro, West Virginia.
Bradley is scheduled to be sentenced on November 14, 2023 and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $25,000 fine. Bradley also owes $18,703 in restitution.
Investigators with the Public Integrity and Fraud Unit worked closely with United States Attorney Will Thompson’s Office and the West Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Ryan Blackwell is prosecuting the case.