South Holland business owner used pandemic relief money to buy a boat, designer handbags, indictment alleges

A South Holland business owner was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on federal charges of defrauding COVID-19 aid programs meant to help small businesses get by during the pandemic, using more than $440,000 in loans and grants to buy things such as a boat and designer handbags.

Kimberly Ray-Duncan is accused of falsifying applications for emergency aid such as the federal Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, and an indictment filed Jan. 10 charges her with six counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering.

Some of the businesses for which she allegedly filed fraudulent loan and grant applications were not operating, and she is alleged to have inflated information such as numbers of employees, monthly payroll and business operating expenses, according to the indictment.

Ray-Duncan was not immediately available Wednesday to respond to the charges.

While the loan applications were to support businesses during the pandemic, the money was spent on items including a boat, purses under labels such as Prada and Gucci, and Gucci red leather dog collars, according to the indictment.

The alleged fraud began in late May 2020 and continued through at least May of last year, according to the indictment.

Part of the massive aid effort during the pandemic, the federal Paycheck Protection Program was rolled out to offer forgivable loans to small businesses, and Ray-Duncan was able to secure a loan of more than $100,000 for one of her businesses, using fraudulent applications, according to the indictment.

She is also alleged to have filed fraudulent applications for the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and the Illinois Back to Business grant program, administered by the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Ray-Duncan is alleged to have filed documents including false bank statements, payroll records and information about business revenues in order to obtain the grants and loans, according to the indictment.

According to the indictment, she received at least $238,000 in EIDL money, which was used to buy a 2018 Regal 35 Sport Coupe yacht.

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