Edmond Woman Pleads Guilty to Cares Act Main Street Lending Program Fraud
OKLAHOMA CITY – Today, Jill Nicole Ford, 31, of Edmond, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering related to a loan obtained through the Main Street Lending Program, a lending facility established by the Federal Reserve Board and supported with funding authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), announced United States Attorney Robert J. Troester.
The CARES Act provided more than $2 trillion in relief for individuals and businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The CARES Act also authorized the Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board to create the Main Street Lending Program to promote lending to small- and medium-sized businesses affected by the pandemic.
On January 7, 2022, Ford was charged by information with fraudulently obtaining a Main Street Lending Program Loan for her business, Oliver & Olivia Apparel, Inc. Public documents filed in the case reflect that Ford obtained the loan from Citizens Bank of Edmond on September 11, 2020, and executed a loan agreement falsely representing she would use Main Street Lending Program funds for working capital and payroll only. She also falsely represented she would not make financial distributions to herself as the owner of Oliver & Olivia Apparel, Inc. The information further alleged that Ford laundered the loan proceeds by using them to pay for construction of her personal home. Other loan funds were used to purchase a luxury SUV for Ford’s personal use.
Today, Ford pleaded guilty to both charges in the information before U.S. District Judge Jodi D. Dishman. As part of her plea, Ford admitted that she made false representations in obtaining the Main Street Loan and laundering the proceeds by engaging in a financial transaction with those proceeds in an amount greater than $10,000. At sentencing, Ford faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine for the bank fraud offense. She faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the money laundering charge. She must pay a $200 special assessment and may be sentenced to a term of up to five years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment. Ford also agreed the court will enter a restitution order in the amount of $252,143.35. Sentencing will take place in approximately 90 days.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR), the Oklahoma City FBI Field Office, the Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigations, the United States Secret Service, the Federal Reserve Board Office of Inspector General, and the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica L. Perry.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more 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.
Reference is made to court filings for further information.