Missouri woman sentenced to 8 months in prison, ordered to repay $204,000 for pandemic loan fraud

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U.S. District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig on Monday sentenced a woman from St. Peters, Missouri to eight months in prison for defrauding a small business assistance program out of $204,095 during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Trashunda M. Harrison, 38, was also ordered to repay the money.

Harrison pleaded guilty on June 6 to three counts of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud and admitted engaging in a scheme to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program from around June 2020 through April 2021. The PPP was intended to save both small businesses and jobs. Harris submitted a total of nine fraudulent applications for PPP loans in the names of three businesses: The Quiet Space LLC, Blow LLC, and StrutN 80s LLC, as well as in her own name as a sole proprietor. Harrison lied on the applications about the payroll and income of the businesses and submitted fraudulent tax forms to support her false claims. On applications for additional loans, she falsely claimed to have used the first loan for payroll and other business expenses. 

At the time, Harrison had only one functional business, StrutN 80s, which made substantially less than what she claimed in her PPP applications. 

Harrison falsely claimed the businesses would use the money for allowed expenses such as payroll. She instead used the PPP money for unapproved purposes, including shopping, dining, rent, cash withdrawals, and payments to individuals who had no affiliation with the companies, she admitted in her plea agreement. 

Harrison “exploited the COVID-19 pandemic for her personal gain, at the expense of those struggling due to the economic consequences of the pandemic,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Clow wrote in a sentencing memo. Clow also pointed out that Harrison used the identity of someone else in two of her loan applications, without that person’s knowledge.

The case was investigated by the FBI.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Clow is prosecuting the case.

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