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Press Release

Leader of $6.8 Million Pandemic Fraud Scheme Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant orchestrated scheme that stole more than $2.7 million from Emergency Rental Assistance Program intended to assist King County residents facing eviction

Seattle - Paradise Williams, 29, the leader of a wide-ranging fraud scheme that stole more than $3.3 million from federally funded pandemic assistance programs and attempted to obtain more than $6.8 million, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and money laundering charges, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman.  Williams personally received more than $2 million in fraudulent proceeds and spent the money on extravagant expenses such as luxury cars, lavish trips, cosmetic surgery, jewelry, and designer goods.

According to the plea agreement, from June 2020 to February 2022, Williams personally participated in the submission of over 125 fraudulent applications for the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds administered by King County, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act unemployment benefits. Williams enlisted dozens of associates, including her five codefendants, in successfully defrauding the programs of more than $3.3 million by posing as fake tenants, landlords, and small business owners in need of assistance.  In submitting these applications, Williams, among other things, created falsified bank statements, tenant ledgers, and landlord attestations.

Upon receipt of the illegal funds, Williams and her associates methodically laundered the funds through cash withdrawals, wire transfers, and expensive personal purchases.  Williams received more than $1.2 million in kickback payments from her associates for facilitating the fraudulent submissions.

According to the terms of the plea agreement, Williams will pay restitution in the amounts of $2,7791,241 to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and $512,730 to the U.S. Small Business Administration. The defendant will forfeit $2,023,104, the proceeds Williams personally obtained through the scheme. Williams will also forfeit a Lexus sedan and a Range Rover SUV that she purchased with the fraudulent gains.

Wire fraud in relation to a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Money laundering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.  The government has agreed to recommend no more than 110 months in prison for Williams.  The recommendation is not binding on U.S. District Judge John H. Chun, who will determine the appropriate sentence on February 26, 2024, after considering the sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

Williams’ codefendants D’Arius Jackson, Tia Robinson, Rayvon Peterson, and David Martinez previously entered guilty pleas for their participation in the scheme and will be sentenced by Judge Chun in January and February 2024.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cindy Chang.

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

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:


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated December 11, 2023

Disaster Fraud