RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Tuesday, Sept. 13, that a Midlothian woman has been sentenced to 70 months in prison for taking part in schemes to defraud the federal government out of $1.8 million in COVID-19 relief funds from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
According to the Department of Justice, court documents revealed that 30-year-old Sadie Mitchell and an unnamed co-conspirator took on a scheme to steal pandemic relief funds from the Virginia Employment Commission by filing at least 20 fraudulent unemployment applications using the personal information of incarcerated people that Mitchell had access to from her job in state government.
Mitchell and her co-conspirator, who is now deceased, further defrauded the Virginia Employment Commission by filing at least 30 fraudulent applications in the names of other people. Mitchell had obtained the personal information of these people, in part, through a government database that she had access to as an employee of the Virginia Motor Vehicle Dealer Board. Mitchell and her co-conspirator received approximately $1 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Unemployment Insurance benefits through this scheme.
Court documents also showed that from June 2020 to June 2021, Mitchell defrauded the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs by submitting applications containing falsified information in an attempt to get more COVID relief funds. Mitchell sent five fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program applications to a financial institution containing false statements, certifications and representations. She submitted several fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications to the Small Business Administration for businesses that did not have any customers, employees or activities, and included false information in those applications.