Federal officials in Virginia said an Air Force member and his wife lied about owning at least five small businesses and struggling to get $5.1 million in COVID-19 loans during the pandemic.
They succeeded in stealing $1.4 million from the government, according to prosecutors.
Malik Mitchum, 26, and Jenna Mitchum, 25, pleaded guilty Jan. 12 to making several fictitious loan applications for the money, according to a press release issued the same day from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The couple, who lived in Hampton, weren’t struggling business owners because Mitchum’s owner “actually” was a junior pilot and his wife was unemployed, according to prosecutors. Hampton is 17 miles north of Norfolk where the Norfolk Naval Station is located.
“Mitchum has accepted responsibility for his wrongful actions and expressed remorse for the events that led to his and his wife being sued in federal court,” the couple’s attorney, James Broccoletti, told McClatchy News in a statement.
The press release stated that they spent the illegally obtained money on “luxury” items, such as a Rolex watch worth $38,743. As a result, they face a maximum of 30 years in prison.
They intended to take out more than $5.1 million in loans for small business owners whose expenses have been affected by the pandemic, according to officials.
In March 2020, the same month that the coronavirus pandemic was declared, and through May 2021, the husband and wife filed at least 19 bogus “requests for pandemic-related loan benefits containing false statements and misrepresentations about their income and employment and allegations,” prosecutors said. .
The pair “formed fictitious business entities,” calling them “Alpha 2 Omega Logistics, Southern by the Belle, A20 Auto Brokers, Pure Pressure, Day and Night Trucking,” according to court documents obtained by McClatchy News.
“All were used for fraudulent application for loans under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and the Paycheck Protection Program.”
Prosecutors said the sentencing date for Malik and Jenna Mitchum is July 29.
The press release noted that “actual penalties for federal crimes are usually less than the maximum penalties.”
According to court documents, the court can impose “financial penalties” in addition to compensation.
Regarding the $1.4 million, Broccoletti said Malik Mitchum “has already taken steps to pay the full amount and is dedicated to completing this task.”
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