Malik Mitchum, 26, and Jenna Mitchum, 25, formerly of Hampton, Virginia, pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of conspiracy to commit $5.1 million in wire fraud affecting a financial institution, according to the Associated Press.

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While Malik was a junior enlisted member of the US Air Force and Jenna was unemployed during the months of March 2020 and May 2021, the couple claimed to own at least five small businesses. According to documents obtained by McClatchy News, these were “Alpha 2 Omega Logistics, “Southern by the Belle, A2O Auto Brokers, Pure Pressure and Day & Night Trucking”.

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Claiming they were struggling business owners, the couple applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan sponsored by the Small Business Administration, a news release said on Wednesday. The loans and programs were created under the Care Act to small businesses to help with expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to TeaThat Justice Department.

The DOJ said loan benefits related to the pandemic include false claims and statements about Mitchum’s income, employment and alleged business entities.

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The proceeds from the loan were spent on the purchase of luxuries, such as a Rolex watch worth approximately $39,000. Prosecutors say fraudulent loans caused $1.4 million in COVID-19 relief fund losses News & Observers,

According to the DOJ, they submitted at least 19 fake applications for loan benefits related to the pandemic. They are also in relation to 20 other fraudulent loan applications. The news release said it was because of their IP address being used for application submission or wire transfers.

According to the news release, the couple pleaded guilty on January 12, 2022, and faced up to 30 years in prison when sentenced on July 29. Court documents state that the court may impose a “monetary penalty” with the sentence. According to the Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo’s website, possible penalties are a fine of up to $1 million and up to thirty years in prison.

“The actual punishment for federal crimes is usually less than the maximum penalty,” the news release said.

The couple’s attorney, James Brocoletti, told McClatchy News in a statement: “Mr. Mitchum has accepted responsibility for his wrongdoing and expressed regret for the incidents that led to the trial of him and his wife.” Is.”

Mitchum is also taking steps to clear $1.4 million owed to the COVID-19 relief fund and, according to Brocoletti, Malik has “already taken steps to repay the full amount and to complete that task.” dedicated to.”