New Haven, Vermont Woman Pleads Guilty to Pandemic Fraud
Burlington, Vermont – The United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Jennifer Stocker, 46, of New Haven, Vermont pleaded guilty today in United States District Court in Burlington to a charge of bank fraud in connection with false statements that she made on an application for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. Chief U.S. District Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford accepted Stocker’s plea and scheduled her sentencing hearing for March 8, 2024.
On August 16, 2023, the United States filed a one count information charging Stocker with bank fraud. The defendant pleaded guilty to that charge today. According to court records, in May 2020, Stocker falsely stated on a PPP loan application for Twelve Acres LLC, an entity that she co-owned, that she had not been convicted of a felony in the past five years and was not on probation. In fact, in 2018, Stocker pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Burlington to making false statements in applications for benefits funded by federal agencies. For that 2018 offense, Stocker was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay nearly $140,000 in restitution.
Twelve Acres’ May 2020 PPP loan application was approved, and Stocker received loan proceeds totaling nearly $60,000. In February 2021, Stocker submitted a second PPP loan application for Twelve Acres and included a false statement about her criminal history. That application was also approved, and Stocker received loan proceeds totaling over $26,000. Stocker submitted loan forgiveness applications for both PPP loans that Twelve Acres received, and both forgiveness applications were granted for the full loan amounts plus interest.
For Stocker’s 2018 offense, the U.S. Probation Office filed a petition alleging that she violated her conditions of probation by failing to pay restitution from February 2022 to July 2022, by opening auto loans without obtaining approval from the probation officer, and by committing the bank fraud offense described above. In today’s hearing, Stocker admitted these violations; she will be sentenced for the violations on March 8, 2024.
For the bank fraud offense, Stocker faces a maximum possible penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. For the probation violation, Stocker faces a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison. The actual sentence will be determined by Chief Judge Crawford with reference to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and the United States Code. In the plea agreement, the government stated that it would recommend a cumulative total term of imprisonment of 25 months.
Stocker is represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Sara Puls, Esq. The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Cate.
Addressing pandemic-related fraud is a priority of U.S. Attorney Nikolas Kerest and of the Department of Justice. For information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus. Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
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