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Hampton couple pleads guilty to starting 5 fake businesses to get millions in COVID relief funds

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Posted at 2:50 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 14:50:35-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A Hampton couple pleaded guilty Wednesday to submitting fraudulent disaster-related loan applications in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal prosecutors said that 26-year-old Malik Mitchum and 25-year-old Jenna Mitchum, both from Hampton reportedly started the alleged fake businesses and which caused a loss of $1.4 million in COVID-19 relief funds.

In reality, officials say Malik Mitchum was a junior enlisted member of the Air Force and Jenna Mitchum was unemployed.

Between March 2020 and May 2021, the couple submitted at least 19 fraudulent applications for pandemic-related loan benefits that contained false statements and misrepresentations about their income, employment, and claimed business entities.

Federal prosecutors claim the defendants submitted applications for loans under the EIDL and PPP programs that contained false statements, misrepresentations, omissions related to the defendant's income, employment, and claimed business entities are facing conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

They said over the course of 14 months the suspects attempted to take $5.1 million in COVID-19 relief money.

Officials say Malik and Jenna Mitchum spent much of the fraud proceeds they obtained on luxury purchases, like a Rolex watch for $38,743.00.

They both pleaded guilty and face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Malik and Jenna Mitchum are scheduled to be sentenced on July 29. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.