Elizabethtown woman pleads guilty to CARES Act fraud in the amount of $1,328,955
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WBKO) - Kelly Woods, 43, of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, pleaded guilty in federal court today to three counts of wire fraud related to a CARES Act financial assistance program.
U.S. Attorney Michael A. Bennett of the Western District of Kentucky, Special Agent in Charge Kathy Enstrom of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, and Special Agent in Charge Jodi Cohen of the FBI Louisville Field Division made the announcement.
During the plea hearing, Woods admitted that between May 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, she filed three fraudulent applications for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, resulting in the theft of $1,318,955. Woods utilized the entities Philips Healthcare LLC and LB Acquisitions LLC. Woods organized LB Acquisitions LLC after the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic. She then exaggerated the number of employees and payroll expenses of those entities in the fraudulent applications.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) PPP loans were designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses that were in operation on February 15, 2020, to keep their workers on the payroll. PPP loan proceeds were required to be used by the business on certain permissible expenses. Interest and principal on PPP loans could be entirely forgiven if the business spent the loan proceeds on the allowable expenses within a designated period and used a certain percentage of the PPP loan proceeds on payroll expenses.
Woods is scheduled to be sentenced on June 22, 2023. Pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, Woods will also forfeit certain real property and a vehicle. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The FDIC Office of Inspector General and FBI are investigating the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicole Elver and David Weser are prosecuting the case.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across the government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
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