9 people in Arizona accused of defrauding pandemic relief program

PHOENIX (AP) – Nine people in Arizona have been charged with allegations that they fraudulently obtained more than $ 23 million in government aid in the event of a pandemic.

Federal prosecutors allege that Jason Coleman, 40, and Kimberly Coleman, 38, of Mesa, conspired to prepare and submit about two dozen fraudulent applications seeking $ 30 million in loans under the Check Protection Program of pay. They received $ 13 million in 10 of their claims, according to prosecutors, who say the couple submitted bogus employment data and a fictitious payroll.

The P3 program has given employers billions of dollars in low-interest loans that would be written off entirely if the money was used for specific purposes such as wage costs. The program was created at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as authorities have ordered many businesses to shut down and urged people to stay at home.

Authorities alleged the Colemans used the money to buy four properties, including a $ 3.8 million house, luxury vehicles, furniture and investments.

Jason and Kimberly Coleman pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and transactional money laundering charges. A magistrate has ordered their detention pending trial, ruling that they represent a risk of flight and a danger.

Kimberly Coleman attorney Joshua Kolsrud declined to comment. Jason Coleman’s lawyer could not be reached, but a receptionist said the firm is not commenting on the cases.

Meanwhile, a grand jury has also issued eight other indictments against seven people in the Phoenix area accused of conspiring to defraud the pandemic relief program.