A Brookhaven woman allegedly took part in a scheme to steal over $3.5 million from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
Brookhaven resident Treisha Pearson, 49, and Alpharetta resident Lakisha Swope, 43, were arraigned on March 3, and face charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.
Pearson and Swope pleaded not guilty during the arraignment, according to PACER court documents from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
The press release indicates there were other people accused of involvement in the alleged scheme, but a DOJ spokesperson would not identify them. Neither Pearson nor Swope’s lawyers immediately responded to a request for comment.
Pearson, Swope and others allegedly submitted false applications for the Paycheck Protection Program, which was created to provide loans for small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. The two sent in numerous applications for multiple businesses, claiming over $5 million in loans, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine.
Because of those false applications, lenders gave out over $3.5 million in PPP loans to the various entities, prosecutors allege. Swope, Pearson and other purported members of the conspiracy then allegedly used those funds for things such as high-end clothing, rent and vacation rentals.
“PPP dollars often provide a bridge for businesses suffering from the effects of the pandemic,” Erksine said in the release. “However, PPP funds are not unlimited, and those who seek to enrich themselves fraudulently through this program will be prosecuted.”
No trial date has been set yet, according to the DOJ.