Correctional Officer Charged With Paycheck Protection Program Fraud | USAO-NDGA

ATLANTA — Harrescia Hopkins, a correctional officer employed at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, has been indicted on federal wire fraud charges for fraudulently obtaining two Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans . Hopkins was indicted by a federal grand jury on August 9, 2022.

“Hopkins was employed in a position of trust to help protect our community,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said. “But during a time of dire economic need in our country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she chose to defraud taxpayers and improperly take funds meant to help struggling businesses survive.”

“Hopkins allegedly tried to take advantage of the system by fraudulently obtaining PPP funds intended for those who were legitimately struggling to make ends meet during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said James F. Boyersmith, special agent in charge of the department. . of Justice Office of the Inspector General Miami Field Office.

According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented to the court: The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) was a federal law enacted on or about March 2020 that was intended to provide financial assistance of emergency to the millions of Americans who were experiencing the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the sources of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of up to $349 billion in repayable loans to small businesses for payroll, mortgage interest, rent/lease and utilities by through a program called the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”). Congress has since authorized additional PPP funding.

The PPP allowed small businesses and other eligible organizations to receive PPP loans. Businesses must use PPP loan proceeds for payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities. The PPP allowed interest and principal on a PPP loan to be fully forgiven if the business spent the loan proceeds on these expenses within a specified time period and used a certain percentage of the PPP loan proceeds for payroll expenses.

Hopkins, while a correctional officer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, allegedly applied for two PPP loans of $19,100 each in August 2020 and January 2021. The PPP loan applications were supposed to help a company named Hopkins Towing and Storage, which, according to she had a gross income. of $100,525 in 2019. In reality, Hopkins Towing and Storage was not a real, functioning business, and Hopkins had the loan proceeds deposited into his personal checking account.

Harrescia Hopkins, 33, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, was arraigned before U.S. Judge Christopher C. Bly. Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only charges. The accused is presumed innocent of the charges and the onus will be on the government to prove the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This matter is being investigated by the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Garrett L. Bradford, deputy chief of the Public Integrity and Special Affairs Section, is prosecuting the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus

Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or through the complaint form NCDF online at: https://www. .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

For more information, please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Public Affairs at [email protected] or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

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