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Press Release

Missouri Woman Admits Fraudulently Applying for $168,000 Pandemic Loan

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

CAPE GIRARDEAU – A woman pleaded guilty to federal charges Thursday and admitted fraudulently applying for a $167,999 Payroll Protection Program loan during the coronavirus pandemic for a Poplar Bluff, Missouri business that she did not run or own.

Maxine Michelle Burns, 44, of Willow Springs in Howell County, Missouri, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Cape Girardeau to bank fraud and making false statements to a financial institution.

Burns admitted applying for a PPP loan from the Small Business Administration on Jan. 20, 2021 using the name of the owner of a residential treatment facility in Poplar Bluff without authorization, as well as the owner’s signature stamp. The loan was granted, and Burns admitted using the money to buy vehicles for herself and pay for vacations.

On Sept. 16, 2021, Burns then applied to the SBA for forgiveness of the PPP loan, falsely claiming that the money had been used for payroll and other permissible purposes. Her application was granted and the loan was forgiven.

At her sentencing, set for September 28, Burns faces up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine or both. She will also be ordered to repay the money and has already agreed to do so.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Willis is prosecuting the case.

Updated July 6, 2023

Financial Fraud