RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – A married couple from Texas pleaded guilty Thursday to running a scheme to help dozens of people in North Carolina and across the U.S. defraud $15 million. in Paycheck Protection Plan loans during the COVID-19 pandemic, lawyers say.
Edward Whitaker, 55, and Schunda Coleman, 50, face up to 20 years in prison and fines after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert T. .Numbers II in the courtroom in Raleigh.
According to a criminal complaint and information provided by attorneys, Whitaker and Coleman provided false documents and PPP loan applications to their clients and helped them falsify the number of employees at their companies. along with their full salary in order to proceed with their loan application.
In fact, prosecutors say the money was returned to those customers.
The couple was also accused of paying brokers to hire other people to submit fake loan applications.
Quentin Jackson pleaded guilty in November 2022 as part of the same conspiracy, with prosecutors identifying him as one of the middlemen who recruited more than 12 people to obtain fraudulent loans through a scheme run by Whitaker and Coleman.
Such programs were intended to help prevent job losses in some industries by extending loans of up to $10 million, based on the applicant’s salary, at the beginning of the COVID epidemic. -19. Those loans can be forgiven if the business keeps its payroll and employee population stable.