A Blythewood woman has been sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to receiving more than $1.2 million in fraudulent coronavirus relief fund loans.
Bridgett Dorsey, 39, received $1.25 million by way of seven Economic Injury Disaster loans and two Paycheck Protect Program loans, along with two EIDL cash advances, for seven business for which she was the alleged owner. According to U.S. Attorney Corey F. Ellis’ office, Dorsey submitted applications containing materially false information, including inflated business revenues and employee numbers as well as addresses where business did not exist. In some cases, Dorsey submitted false documentation or created businesses for the sole purpose of obtaining the loans, according to a news release from Ellis’ office.
Dorsey’s sentence is the first in the District of South Carolina for a fraud case involving the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief fund passed in March 2020. Dorsey also pleaded guilty to committing tax fraud.
“The defendant in this case not only stole from the federal government and engaged in tax fraud, but she prevented funds from reaching the hands of those who needed it the most. That this occurred during a pandemic makes her crimes particularly egregious,” Ellis said in the release. “This case highlights the Department of Justice’s commitment to prosecuting those who illegally take advantage of COVID-19 to line their own pockets. Fortunately, the quick and capable work of our federal partners permitted the recovery of a substantial amount of stolen funds.”
Small business received more than $640 billion in forgivable PPP loans to apply to expenses including payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities, while the EIDL program provided low-interest loans for items such as accounts payable and other bills.
"It is always a shame to see the rampant abuse of programs designed to help ordinary people struggling through the pandemic," said Brian Thomas, assistant special agent in charge for the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s Charlotte field office. “The IRS will continue to thoroughly investigate and vigorously target those who exploit the pandemic to commit tax fraud, and this case speaks to those efforts.”
During the investigation, the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration also discovered that Dorsey had committed tax fraud through one of her businesses, Virtual Financial Services. Dorsey prepared multiple tax returns on behalf of others and claimed deductions she knew were false, according to the release.
The agencies seized more than $500,000 of stolen funds in bank accounts controlled by Dorsey, and another account with approximately $130,000 was frozen. These funds will be applied toward the restitution owed by Dorsey, who paid approximately $184,000 in restitution before sentencing.
Senior U.S. District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie sentenced Dorsey to 24 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. There is no parole in the federal system.
Dorsey was also ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution stemming from coronavirus relief-related fraud in addition to $13,865 in restitution to the IRS for tax fraud.