Two indicted for pandemic relief fraud
Staff Report | September 12, 2022 4:13 PM
RICHLAND — A federal grand jury has indicted two West Richland business owners for making fraudulent claims for $800,000 in COVID-19 relief under the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington.
The press release stated the grand jury indicted Jimia Rae Cain, 52, of seven counts of fraud in connection with Paycheck Protection Program loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans, alleging Cain used false statements to obtain roughly $330,000 in loans in 2020. Separately, the grand jury also indicted Andrei Borgheriu, 45, with three counts of fraud in connection with $500,000 in EIDL loans that Borgheriu used to purchase a house, the press release said.
The charges against Cain carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, while the charges against Borgheriu carry a maximum of 20 years, the press release said, adding that federal officials are also seeking to seize Borgheriu’s home.
Under the provisions of the CARES Act, PPP loans were designed to help small businesses cover payroll and other business expenses, with that portion of the loan being forgiven later, while EIDL loans were designed to help small businesses stay open during pandemic-related closures.
“COVID-19 relief programs were designed to lift up our community during the crisis, and due to the number of people and businesses that requested funding, some deserving small businesses were not able to obtain funding to keep their businesses in operation,” said U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington Vanessa Waldref in the press release.
According to the press release, a federal task force comprised of investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Treasury and other federal agencies was set up earlier this year to investigate allegations of COVID-19 relief fraud.