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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Oklahoma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 9, 2022

Woman Sentenced for Leading a Paycheck Protection Program Loan Scheme

A Tulsa woman who led two others in a scheme to apply for almost $800,000 in Paycheck Protection Program loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the CARES Act was sentenced Tuesday in federal court, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.

U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell sentenced Aleta Necole Thomas, 43, to 30 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release. In total, Thomas and her two codefendants will pay restitution in the amount of $774,753.50. The government previously seized $209, 991.11 from bank accounts held by Thomas pursuant to federal seizure warrants, which will go toward restitution.

“Individuals who steal funds from federal programs meant to help sustain Americans in times of need will face justice,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “Aleta Thomas’ 30-month prison sentence should serve as a warning to other like-minded criminals that white collar crime doesn’t pay.”

“This sentencing sends a clear message that those who defraud the federal government of pandemic relief funds for their own personal gain will be brought to justice,” said Cory Nootnagel, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Western Region, Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. “I want to thank all our federal law enforcement partners for their hard work that led to this result.”

Thomas previously pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements to a financial institution.

In her plea agreement, Thomas stated that on May 27, 2020, she submitted false statements and reports to Cross River Bank when she applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan. Thomas submitted a borrower application form falsely stating “Coming Correct Community Ministry” had an average monthly payroll of $35,000 and was in operation since Feb. 15, 2020. Thomas further claimed that she had 26 employees for whom she paid payroll taxes or independent contractors as reports in IRS Form 1099-MISC. Thomas also falsely certified that all information in the application and supporting documents was correct and submitted documentation that included forged bank statements and false 2019 IRS Schedule C (Form 1040).

Thomas further stated that on June 16, 2020, she submitted false statements and reports to First Electronic Bank when she applied for another Paycheck Protection Program loan where she made similar claims.

Thomas will self-surrender to a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility on July 20, 2022.

The other two defendants charged and convicted for taking part in the scheme were Katrina West, 39, and Pepper Jones, 42.

See the press release regarding the three defendant’s plea agreements  here.

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Office of Inspector General; U.S. Department of Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration; Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are the investigative agencies. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristin Harrington and Cymetra Williams are prosecuting the case.

To learn more about the Justice Department’s COVID response and to report COVID-19 fraud, visit: https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.  For further information on the Criminal Division’s enforcement efforts on PPP fraud, including court documents from significant cases, visit the following website: https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/ppp-fraud.

Topic(s): 
Disaster Fraud
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
Public Affairs 918-382-2755
Updated June 9, 2022