2 plead guilty to submitting false COVID-19 loan applications

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — A former Virginia couple have pleaded guilty to submitting at least 40 bogus loan applications totaling more than $5.1 million related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the U.S. Department of Health. Justice.

Malik Mitchum, 26, and Jenna Mitchum, 25, worked to secure economic disaster loans and Paycheck Protection Program loans sponsored by the Small Business Administration, according to a news release Wednesday.

Prosecutors said the Mitchums falsely claimed they owned at least five small businesses, when Malik Mitchum was actually a junior member of the US Air Force and Jenna Mitchum was unemployed. Between March 2020 and May 2021, Malik and Jenna Mitchum submitted at least 19 fraudulent claims for pandemic-related loan benefits. They are also linked to more than 20 other fraudulent loan applications by the IP address used to submit the applications or bank transfers, according to the press release.

Prosecutors said the Mitchums spent much of the money on luxury purchases, such as a Rolex watch worth nearly $39,000.

Malik and Jenna Mitchum pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. They face up to 30 years in prison when sentenced on July 29, according to the press release.

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