Five current or former employees in Tennessee and Mississippi with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have been charged with scamming the federal government of hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds to bankroll extravagant lifestyles.
The suspects allegedly received money through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, which were designed to help business owners meet their financial obligations during the pandemic.
"These individuals – acting out of pure greed – abused their positions by taking government funds meant for citizens and businesses who desperately needed it," said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee Kevin G. Ritz.
The defendants allegedly submitted false loan applications that collectively sought more than $1 million. They used the money to purchase luxury cars and for travel, including trips to Las Vegas.
Brian Saulsberry, 46, of Memphis, Tennessee, is charged with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. He worked for the IRS as a Program Evaluation and Risk Analyst in the Human Capital Office and submitted four EIDL applications. He allegedly received $171,400 and spent a portion of the money on a Mercedes-Benz and deposited additional funds into a personal investment account.
Courtney Quinshe Westmoreland, 38, of Cordova, Tennessee, is charged with three counts of wire fraud. She claimed she wasn't working while employed by the IRS, the Justice Department said. She used the $11,500 in loan funds for manicures and massages, and to purchase luxury clothing.
Fatina Hewitt, 35, of Olive Branch, Mississippi, is charged with one count of wire fraud. Hewitt spent $28,900 on Gucci clothes and a trip to Las Vegas, authorities said.
Roderick DeMarco White II, 27, of Memphis, has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. Tina Humes, 56, of Memphis, also charged with a single count of wire fraud, allegedly spent $123,612 in loan funds on jewelry and trips to Las Vegas.
She has also pleaded guilty. Each suspect faces up to 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count and 10 years for money laundering.