A Wilmington woman was sentenced this week to 31 months in jail for applying for and taking $246,000 in false claims for federal COVID-19 relief funds.
Ana Soto, 41, who formerly lived in Newark, submitted 17 fraudulent loan applications for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act money.
She had applied for as much as $746,000 in small business loans from programs including Paycheck Protection and Economic Injury Disaster Loans, said a press release from U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss’s office.
Of that, $500,000 was denied, the release said.
The applications, made from March 3o, 2020, through Jan. 24, 2021, were made on behalf of five companies controlled by Soto or her close relations, .
Each application falsely stated the amount of gross revenues, cost of goods sold and number of employees, the release said
In some instances, the loan applications falsely claimed the businesses were in operation at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Weiss said Soto taking advantage of a program designed to help and reassure people at the start of the pandemic was particularly deplorable.
She was sentenced to 31 months by Chief U. S. District Court Judge Colm F. Connolly on Tuesday.
Soto’s sentence “should be a stark reminder that we will bring to justice those who defrauded the government during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Weiss said.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience.
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