A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging a Georgia woman with a scheme to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a federal stimulus program authorized as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
According to court documents, Shelitha Robertson, 60, of Atlanta, and other co-conspirators allegedly submitted fraudulent PPP loan applications on behalf of various companies they owned and controlled. The indictment alleges that Robertson fraudulently obtained over $7 million in PPP loan funds, which was not used for payroll or other permitted business expenses. Robertson allegedly used loan proceeds to purchase luxury items, including a Rolls-Royce, a motorcycle, and jewelry, and to transfer funds to family members and co-conspirators.
Robertson, who formerly served as an Assistant City Attorney and a police officer in Atlanta, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each of the conspiracy and wire fraud charges, and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on the money laundering charge.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan for the Northern District of Georgia, Inspector General Jay N. Lerner of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware of the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG), and Inspector General J. Russell George of the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) made the announcement.
The FDIC-OIG, SBA-OIG, and TIGTA are investigating the case.
Trial Attorney Ariel Glasner of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bernita Malloy for the Northern District of Georgia are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s prosecution of fraud schemes that exploit the PPP. Since the inception of the CARES Act, the Fraud Section has prosecuted over 192 defendants in more than 121 criminal cases and has seized over $78 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased with such proceeds. More information can be found at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/ppp-fraud.
In May 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 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 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 via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.