A Georgia resident who fraudulently collected $6 million in Paycheck Protection Program funding in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic has been sentenced to three years in prison, the Department of Justice said.
Hunter VanPelt, aka Ellen Corkrum, 49, of Roswell pleaded guilty to bank fraud in August after submitting six loan applications for a total of nearly $8 million on behalf of companies she controlled or owned, prosecutors said.
''According to court documents, VanPelt lied about the number of employees and payroll expenses in each of the six PPP loan applications,'' the DOJ said.
''To support the fraudulent PPP loan applications, VanPelt also submitted fraudulent tax records, bank statements, and payroll reports. VanPelt, who legally changed her name from Ellen Corkrum to Hunter VanPelt in July 2016, submitted three of the PPP loan applications using the name VanPelt and the other three PPP loan applications using the name Corkrum,'' the department said.
The Paycheck Protection Program was meant to help small businesses stay afloat and retain employees during the pandemic.
''The Paycheck Protection Program is meant to help legitimate businesses and their workers through the depths of the pandemic,'' Kurt Erskine, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said in the release.
''Unfortunately, VanPelt decided to use the program as her personal bank. A significant federal sentence, such as the one she received, hopefully deters others from following the same path,'' he said.
DOJ has prosecuted more than 150 people and seized more than $75 million in funds related to PPP fraud so far.
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