COVID Relief Fund Fraud Charges Filed Against 6 Philly-Area Residents

PHILADELPHIA — Six Philadelphia-area residents have been accused of stealing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funds in two separate fraud instances, federal authorities mentioned.

According to authorities, Wylene Johnson, 41, of Chester; Cookie Bundy, 41, of Philadelphia; Hakeem Cooper, 42, of Philadelphia; Louis Barnett, 43, of Philadelphia; Barry Mitchell, 33, of Philadelphia; and Tameka Edmonds, 32, of Marcus Hook; had been charged with numerous Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) fraud-related offenses in two separate Indictments.

In the primary Indictment, Johnson, Bundy, Cooper, Barnett, and Mitchell are every charged with 4 counts of mail fraud and one depend of theft of presidency money in reference to a scheme to submit fraudulent PUA purposes.

As a part of the scheme, the 4 allegedly submitted (or brought on to be submitted) almost 100 fraudulent purposes, leading to a loss to the federal government of almost $1 million {dollars}, in line with authorities.

All purposes submitted as a part of this scheme listed Johnson’s former tackle in Philadelphia because the mailing tackle for advantages, authorities mentioned.

After the advantages had been mailed to this tackle, these charged allegedly accessed both the checks or debit playing cards issued on the purposes, in line with authorities.

In addition to the PUA scheme, Johnson, Barnett, and Mitchell are additionally every charged with three counts of theft of presidency money for allegedly submitting fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) purposes to the Small Business Administration for companies which didn’t exist, authorities mentioned.

As a results of these fraudulent purposes, Johnson allegedly obtained roughly $52,000 {dollars} from the SBA which she allegedly spent on personal objects, in line with authorities.

Barnett and Mitchell additionally allegedly obtained emergency advances from the SBA which they spent on personal objects, authorities mentioned.

In October 2022, when legislation enforcement brokers from the United States Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations arrested Bundy and Mitchell for the fees on this Indictment, firearms and ammunition had been recovered from each of their residences, in line with authorities

Bundy and Mitchell had been then charged with illegally possessing a firearm and ammunition as beforehand convicted felons, authorities mentioned.

In the second fraud Indictment, Edmonds is charged with three counts of mail fraud and three counts of theft of presidency money for allegedly submitting fraudulent PUA, EIDL, and Paycheck Protect Program (‘PPP’) purposes.

Edmonds can also be charged with spending the EIDL and PPP funds on personal objects.

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into legislation.

The CARES Act created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which gives unemployment advantages to people not eligible for normal unemployment compensation or prolonged unemployment advantages, together with people, households, and companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

(*6*) to obtain weekly PUA advantages is based on an applicant’s unemployment for causes associated to the pandemic, and it requires that the applicant was capable of work every day and, if provided a job, would have been capable of settle for it.

Once an applicant is permitted to obtain advantages, the applicant is required to submit weekly certifications indicating that she or he: was prepared, keen and capable of work every day; was looking for full time employment; didn’t refuse any job provides or referrals; and had reported any employment throughout the week and the gross pay or different funds obtained.

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