Prosecutors: Illinois woman spent pandemic relief loans on yacht, Gucci dog collar

(The Center Square) — An Illinois woman is set to be arraigned Thursday after federal prosecutors indicted her on fraud charges related to more than $440,000 she received through federal and state pandemic-relief programs. 

Prosecutors said she used the proceeds to buy luxury items, such as a red leather Gucci dog collar and a yacht. 

Prosecutors said Kimberly Ray-Duncan, 54, of South Holland, defrauded the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and the Illinois Back to Business Grant Program. In the indictment, prosecutors said she spent most of the money on a 2018 Regal 35 Sport Coupe yacht that she named “Chrysanthemum.”

She put a $31,000 down payment on the boat in Bolingbrook in early May 2021 in Bolingbrook and later made a $254,000 payment toward the yacht, according to court records. The yacht has sleeping room for six people.

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In addition to the yacht, prosecutors seek to recover Prada, Gucci and Saint Laurent purses; red leather dog collars by Gucci; Burberry, Gucci, Giorgio Armani and Prada sunglasses; and MCM, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Gucci and Prada scarves, according to court records.

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Ray-Duncan faces six counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering and two counts of engaging in monetary transactions involving criminally derived property, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors claim she applied for loans through a series of companies, some of which didn’t exist. She also lied about the companies’ number of employees, revenues, operating expenses and payroll. Prosecutors said she sent falsified bank statements, tax returns and other documents to a company to get the federal and state loans. 

Ray-Duncan is set to be arraigned at 1 p.m. Thursday

Ray-Duncan’s attorney, Joan Arthetta Hill-McClain, declined to comment on case, but said Ray-Duncan wants to be treated fairly.

“My client just wants to be treated like any other American citizen under our laws and allowed the same privileges and rights that the Founding Fathers afforded to citizens and not chattel,” Hill-McClain said in an email to The Center Square. “She is an American citizen who just wants to be treated fairly. I am sure that you heard of Maya Angelou’s ‘I know why the Caged Bird Sings.’ Although the book was an autobiography, the title emanates the history of African Americans in our education, financial, and judicial systems.”

Under the CARES Act, a Paycheck Protection Program loan allows the interest and principal to be forgiven if businesses spend a certain amount of the proceeds on essential expenses, such as payroll and rent.

The COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program provides loan assistance or grants to cover working capital and other operating expenses. Under the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Back to Business Grant Program, small businesses could apply for grants to cover lost revenue due to economic disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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