MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG)– Five current or former IRS employees in the Mid-South are accused of defrauding federal COVID-19 relief programs, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
According to court documents, the employees allegedly obtained funds under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program by submitting false and fraudulent loan applications that collectively sought over $1 million.
The Justice Department said the money was used for cars, luxury goods, and personal travel including trips to Las Vegas.
The five individuals charged include Brian Saulsberry, 46, of Memphis; Courtney Quinshe Westmoreland, 38, of Cordova; Fatina Hewitt, 35, of Olive Branch, Mississippi; Roderick DeMarco White II, 27, of Memphis; and Tina Humes, 56, of Memphis.
Brian Saulsberry is charged with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. According to the indictment, Saulsberry, who worked as a Program Evaluation and Risk Analyst in the Human Captial Office, sought at least $501,400 in EIDL program loans and obtained $171,400 in funds.
He allegedly spent a portion of the money on a Mercedez-Benz and deposited the funds into a personal investment account.
Courtney Westmoreland is charged with three counts of wire fraud. The indictment stated she sought at least $32,500 in loans on behalf of a purported appearal business and obtained $11,500 in funds while she worked as a Contact Representative in the Wage and Investment Service Centers Department.
She allegedly used the money for luxury clothes and personal services including manicures and massages.
The Justice Department also claims she submitted fraudulent applications for unemployment benefits claiming she was not employed by the federal government. Court documents show she obtained $16,050 in unemployment benefits.
Fatina Hewitt is charged with one count of wire fraud.
Hewitt allegedly submitted multiple EIDL Program applications for a purported fashion business and sought $338,900 in loans while she worked at the IRS as a Management and Program Assistant. She received $28,900 in funds.
Court documents state Hewitt spent the money on Gucci clothing and a trip to Las Vegas.
Hewitt pled guilty to the wire fraud charge on Tuesday.
Roderick DeMarco White II is charged with one count of wire fraud.
White, who worked for the IRS as a Contact Representative in the Wage and Investment Services Center Department, submitted four fraudulent PPP and EIDL Program loans for a fake appeal business and received $66,666.
He allegedly used the funds on personal items including a Gucci satchel.
White pled guilty to wire fraud on Aug. 25.
Tina Humes is charged with one count of wire fraud after documents claim she submitted four PPP and EIDL Program applications seeking $133, 812 in loans. She received $123, 612.
The Justice Department claims Humes spent the money on jewelry and trips to Las Vegas.
She pled guilty to the wire fraud charge on July 27.
Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and each count of money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.