Georgia Woman Admits to Using COVID-19 Relief Program to Swindle Federal Government

Tracy Kirkland
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A Georgia woman has admitted to creating a fake business and using it to receive funding from a federal COVID-19 small business relief program.

This, according to a press release that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia published this month.

Tracy Kirkland, 40, of Swainsboro, pled guilty to an Information charging her with wire fraud, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

“As described in court documents and testimony, in August 2020 Kirkland received a federally guaranteed loan for $66,400 under the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program comprised of funds appropriated by the CARES Act,” the press release said.

“In applying for the funding, Kirkland falsely claimed to own a business in Swainsboro with three employees, ‘Kirklands Hair N Beauty,’ that had suffered economic harm because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon after receiving the SBA loan proceeds into her personal account, Kirkland, a previously convicted felon, used the funds to purchase a 2019 Dodge Charger R/T; made large cash withdrawals from her bank account; and made other non-business-related purchases.”

The charge carries a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. As a result of the plea, Kirkland agrees to repay $66,400 and will forfeit a 2019 Dodge Charger and $16,250. After any prison term, Kirkland may have to spend up to three years on supervised release, the press release said.

There is no parole in the federal system.

As The Tennessee Star reported last year, The CARES Act also included direct payments of $1,200 to taxpayers who earned $75,000 or less – $2,400 to couples who earned $150,000 or less – in 2019. Every dependent in the household was another $500 in direct payments. The act included $350 billion in forgivable small interest loans and expands unemployment benefits by $600 per week. Part-time, self-employed and gig workers were also eligible for unemployment benefits.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Georgia Star News and the Star News Network. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]

 

 

 

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