Former Clerk for Chicago Transit Authority Retirement Plan Sentenced to a Year in Prison for Fraudulently Obtaining $356,000 in Plan Funds
CHICAGO – Two Illinois businessmen have been indicted on federal charges for allegedly fraudulently obtaining more than $7.8 million in small business loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
SHARHABEEL SHREITEH, an accountant in Palos Hills, Ill., and TRACY MITCHELL, the owner of a business in Joliet, Ill., allegedly engaged in fraud related to the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was created by the CARES Act to cover lost revenue due to economic disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic. A PPP loan allowed the interest and principal to be forgiven if businesses spent a certain amount of the loan proceeds on essential expenses, such as payroll and rent.
An indictment unsealed Tuesday in the Northern District of Illinois alleges that Shreiteh and Mitchell recruited purported sole proprietors, self-employed individuals, and businesses to provide personal identifying information, bank statements, and other documents, and then submitted fraudulent PPP loan applications on their behalf. The applications contained numerous misrepresentations and false statements that inflated the applicants’ payroll, income, and other expenses, the indictment states. In exchange for preparing and submitting the fraudulent applications, Shreiteh and Mitchell received at least $1,000 to $4,000 per successful loan, the indictment states.
The indictment charges 13 counts of wire fraud against Shreiteh, 43, of Crete, Ill., and ten counts against Mitchell, 49, of Plainfield, Ill. Mitchell pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Tuesday in federal court in Chicago. Shreiteh’s arraignment has not yet been scheduled.
The indictment was announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Justin Campbell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago, and Robert W. “Wes” Wheeler, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI Chicago Field Office. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elie Zenner.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
Anyone with information about attempted Covid-19 fraud can report it to the Department of Justice by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721, or by filing an online complaint at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.