Architect of multi-million-dollar education fraud involving scuba dive shops sentenced to years in federal prison
SAVANNAH, GA: The former manager of a Savannah bed and breakfast is accused of embezzling more than $500,000 in a 14-count federal indictment.
Chiquita Blake, 46, of Pooler, Ga., is charged with 14 counts of Wire Fraud in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The charges carry a statutory penalty upon conviction of up to 20 years in prison, along with substantial financial penalties, followed by a period of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Historic properties are an essential element of Savannah’s hospitality industry,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “With our law enforcement partners, we will protect these small businesses from the potential financial harm of illegal activities.”
As described in the indictment, Blake was employed as a manager of a bed and breakfast in Savannah’s Historic District. From around May 2015 through December 2020, Blake “knowingly executed and attempted to execute a scheme and artifice” to defraud the inn, “to obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises.”
The indictment alleges that Blake fraudulently transferred funds from the inn’s accounts and into bank accounts Blake controlled, and then used those funds for expenditures “such as the defendant’s bills and personal use.”
The indictment specifically charges a portion of those transfers, alleging that from June 24, 2017, to Dec. 20, 2020, Blake made 14 electronic transfers to her personal accounts.
“Fraud committed by those in positions of trust are particularly hurtful,” said Steven R. Baisel, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service. “Their actions are an affront to the societal norms we are all called to live by.”
Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Bearden.
Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer: 912-652-4422