Five IRS employees stole COVID relief funds to buy Gucci, trips to Las Vegas, Justice Department says

Five current or former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees in Tennessee and Mississippi have been accused of defrauding the federal government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds to fund extravagant lifestyles.

The suspects allegedly received money through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program designed to help business owners meet their financial obligations during the pandemic.

“These individuals — acting out of sheer greed — have abused their positions by hijacking government funds intended for citizens and businesses that badly needed them,” said US Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee Kevin G .Ritz.

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The defendants allegedly filed false loan applications that collectively claimed more than $1 million. They used the money to buy luxury cars and travel, including trips to Las Vegas.

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IRS Office COVID-19 Fraud

Five current and former IRS employees in Tennessee and Mississippi have charged a fraud scheme to obtain COVID-19 relief funds, authorities said. (Photographer: Timothy Fadek/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Brian Saulsberry, 46, of Memphis, Tennessee, is charged with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. He worked for the IRS as a program evaluation and risk analyst in the Human Capital Office and filed four EIDL applications. He reportedly received $171,400 and spent some of the money on a Mercedes-Benz and deposited additional funds into a personal investment account.

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Courtney Quinshe Westmoreland, 38, of Cordova, Tennessee, is charged with triple wire fraud. She claimed she did not work while employed by the IRS, the Justice Department said. She used the $11,500 loan funds for manicures and massages, and to purchase luxury clothing.

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Fatina Hewitt, 35, of Olive Branch, Mississippi, faces one charge of wire fraud. Hewitt spent $28,900 on Gucci clothes and a trip to Las Vegas, authorities said.

Roderick DeMarco White II, 27, of Memphis, has pleaded guilty to a count of wire fraud. Tina Humes, 56, of Memphis, also charged with a single count of wire fraud, allegedly spent $123,612 in credit funds on jewelry and trips to Las Vegas.

She has also pleaded guilty. Each suspect faces up to 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and 10 years for money laundering.

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