RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Midlothian woman pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding the Virginia Employment Commission out of $1 million in unemployment benefits by using Virginians’ personal information through a government database that she had access to as a state worker and the identities of incarcerated people.
Sadie Mitchell, 30, also defrauded the federal government out of COVID-19 relief funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, court documents show.
From May 2020 to August 2021, Mitchell and a co-conspirator filed several fraudulent claims to receive more than $1 million in pandemic unemployment assistance, paycheck protection loan funds, unemployment insurance and economic injury disaster loans.
Court documents show that Mitchell and her alleged co-conspirator, who was not named and who is now deceased, took part in three fraud schemes in that span.
They filed at least 20 fraudulent unemployment applications with the Virginia Employment Commission using the personal information of incarcerated people, including false addresses, last employers and commitments that the incarcerated individuals were ready to begin work if any employment became available, prosecutors wrote in a summary of the guilty plea.
Mitchell and her accomplice then filed at least another 30 fraudulent unemployment applications using names and personal information from unsuspecting residents taken from a state government database that Mitchell had access to as a Virginia Motor Vehicle Dealer Board employee.
According to a summary from federal prosecutors, Mitchell and her co-conspirator were able to obtain $1 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funds and unemployment insurance benefits from the Virginia Employment Commission through these schemes.
From June 2020 to June 2021, Mitchell defrauded the EIDL and PPP federal programs using false information about businesses that she claimed were in operation, U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber said in court documents.
In total, federal prosecutors said Mitchell and her accomplice were able to defraud Virginia and the U.S. of nearly $1.2 million.
Mitchell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in federal court in Richmond on Tuesday and is set to be sentenced on Aug. 23. She could face up to 30 years in prison, but federal prosecutors note that actual sentences “are typically less than the maximum penalties.”