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The Department of Justice (DOJ) reported Tuesday that five IRS employees and former IRS agents face charges for participating in a fraud scheme through two federal stimulus programs: the Payment Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL).
Court documents indicate that the defendants allegedly obtained funds from the PPP and EIDL programs by submitting false and fraudulent loan applications, collectively looting more than $1 million.
The loan proceeds were subsequently used for unauthorized purposes, such as the purchase of luxury automobiles, jewelry and personal trips to Las Vegas.
DOJ Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. said in a statement that the defendants “abused the trust” of the public. “The Criminal Division is committed to safeguarding the public trust and protecting pandemic relief programs for the American people,” Polite said.
Who are the former IRS employees?
Brian Saulsberry (46), a former Risk and Program Evaluation Analyst in the IRS Human Capital Office in Memphis, Tennessee, is charged with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.
According to the indictment, Saulsberry submitted four fraudulent EIDL Program applications, seeking at least $501,400 in EIDL Program loans and obtaining $171,400 in total. Saulsberry allegedly spent a portion of the funds on a Mercedes-Benz and deposited additional funds into a personal investment account.
Courtney Quinshe Westmoreland (38) worked as a contact representative in the IRS Wage and Investment Service Centers Department in Cordova, Tennessee, and is charged with three counts of wire fraud.
The indictment states that Westmoreland submitted multiple fraudulent PPP and EIDL Program applications on behalf of a purported clothing company, for which he sought at least $32,500 in loans and obtained $11,500.
Westmoreland allegedly used these funds for personal services, including manicures and massages, and to purchase luxury clothing. While employed by the IRS, she submitted fraudulent applications for unemployment benefits to the Tennessee Department of Labor, claiming she was not employed by the federal government, for which she received about $16,050.
Fatina Hewitt (35), who worked as a program and management assistant in information technology for the IRS in Olive Branch, Mississippi, is charged with one count of wire fraud for submitting multiple fraudulent EIDL Program applications on behalf of a purported fashion company, seeking $338,900 in EIDL Program loans and obtaining $28,900.
Court documents allege that Hewitt spent the loan money on Gucci clothing and a trip to Las Vegas. On October 4, 2022, Hewitt pleaded guilty to defrauding the state.
Roderick DeMarco White II (27), who worked as a contact representative in the Wage and Investment Service Center Department at the Memphis IRS, is charged with one count of wire fraud for submitting four fraudulent applications for the PPP and EIDL programs on behalf of a purported clothing business, seeking $113,311 in loans and obtaining $66,666.
White allegedly spent the loan funds on personal items, including a Gucci handbag. White also pleaded guilty to fraud on August 25, 2022.
Finally, Tina Humes (56), a former senior program and administration assistant in the IRS Human Capital Office in Memphis, is charged with one count of wire fraud for four fraudulent PPP and EIDL applications, seeking $133,812 in loans and obtaining $123,612.
Humes allegedly spent the funds on jewelry and trips to Las Vegas and pleaded guilty to fraud on July 27, 2022.
According to the DOJ, each wire fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The maximum penalty for money laundering charges is 10 years.
Tomás Lugo, journalist and writer. Born in Venezuela and graduated in Social Communication. Has written for international media outlets. Currently living in Colombia // Tomás Lugo, periodista y articulista. Nacido en Venezuela y graduado en Comunicación Social. Ha escrito para medios internacionales. Actualmente reside en Colombia.