Raleigh real estate broker says she used her business to commit wire fraud
RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Raleigh woman has plead guilty to using her real estate business to fraudulently obtain federal COVID relief funds.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Michael Easley said 32-year-old Shakeerah Kaneisha Yvette Vinson pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for fraudulently obtaining a Paycheck Protection Act COVID-19 loan through her real estate broker business.
“This defendant, along with her network of co-conspirators, took taxpayer money meant to help struggling small businesses during a global pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “We are investigating and prosecuting those who steal from public programs intended to keep legitimate businesses afloat.”
According to the charged criminal information, Easley’s office said Vinson conspired with Edward Whitaker, Schunda Coleman, and others to obtain a fraudulent PPP loan on behalf of Vinson’s business. Whitaker and Coleman pled guilty earlier this year to helping people across the country commit millions of dollars of PPP fraud.
Charging documents and information summarized in court showed Vinson agreed to give Whitaker and Coleman 25 percent of the total loan proceeds after they created fraudulent supporting documents and applications for the PPP loan.
Prosecutors say in the application, they lied about the number of employees and gross wages being paid prior to the COVID pandemic. After the loan was disbursed, documents claim Whitaker instructed Vinson how to create the appearance that PPP loans were being paid out to employees. In reality, Easley’s office said the money was transferred back to Vinson.
The District Attorney’s office said the payroll records were submitted to the Small Business Administration to obtain 100 perccent loan forgiveness.
“The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help small businesses facing financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Donald “Trey” Eakins, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge in the Charlotte Field Office. “Through our partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal law enforcement partners, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents will continue to aggressively pursue individuals who try to exploit federal relief programs for their personal gain.”
Vinson will be sentenced later this year. She now faces up to 20 years in prison.