Missouri woman sentenced for $167,997 pandemic loan fraud

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A woman who fraudulently applied for a $167,997 pandemic loan for a business in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, that she neither ran nor owned, was sentenced Thursday to six months in prison.

U.S. District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr. ordered Maxine Michelle Burns, 44, of Willow Springs, Howell County, Missouri, to repay the money. Following her prison term, Burns will be under supervised release for five years.

Burns applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the Small Business Administration on January 20, 2021, using the name and unauthorized signature stamp of a residential treatment facility owner in Poplar Bluff. After securing the loan, Burns utilized the funds to purchase vehicles for personal use and finance vacations. She falsely claimed the loan was used for payroll and other eligible expenses, leading to its forgiveness.

Special Agent in Charge Travis Gibson of the U.S. Secret Service’s St. Louis Field Office highlighted the case as a testament to the joint efforts of the United States Secret Service and the Butler County Sheriff’s Department in targeting those exploiting federal pandemic programs.

Burns admitted to bank fraud and making false statements to a financial institution in U.S. District Court in Cape Girardeau in July.

The U.S. Secret Service conducted the investigation, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Willis prosecuting.

For information on pandemic fraud, contact the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or report through the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

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