Texas couple pleads guilty to running $15 million COVID-19 loan scheme in NC, across US

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A married couple from Texas pleaded guilty Thursday to running a scheme to help dozens of people in North Carolina and across the U.S. fraudulently obtain $15 million in Paycheck Protection Plan loans during the COVID-19 pandemic, prosecutors say.

Edward Whitaker, 55, and Schunda Coleman, 50, face up to 20 years in prison and fines after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert T. Numbers II in a Raleigh courtroom.

According to a criminal complaint and information presented by prosecutors, Whitaker and Coleman gave phony documents and PPP loan applications to their clients and helped them falsify the number of employees at their companies along with their gross wages in order to advance their loan applications.

In reality, prosecutors say the money was transferred back to those clients.

'width' : 300, 'params' : {} }; document.write('');

The couple also was accused of paying middlemen fees to recruit more people to submit phony loan applications.

'height' : 90, 'width' : 728, 'params' : {} }; document.write('');

Quentin Jackson pleaded guilty in November 2022 as part of the same conspiracy, with prosecutors identifying him as one of those middlemen who recruited more than 12 people to obtain phony loans through the scheme run by Whitaker and Coleman.

Those programs were meant to help prevent job losses in certain businesses by extending loans of up to $10 million, based on the applicant’s payroll costs, early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Those loans could be forgiven if the business kept its payroll and its count of employees stable.

Leave a Comment