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Press Release

Leader of $6.8 million pandemic fraud scheme sentenced to 5 years in prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Orchestrated fraud on King County Emergency Rental Assistance program – Largest such theft case in the nation

Seattle – The leader of a wide-ranging fraud scheme that stole more than $3.3 million from federally funded pandemic assistance programs was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 5 years in prison for wire fraud and money laundering, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Paradise Williams, 29, personally received more than $2 million in fraudulent proceeds and spent the money on luxury cars, lavish trips, cosmetic surgery, jewelry, and designer goods. Overall, the fraud ring sought to steal more than $6.8 million, in pandemic benefits from nearly every major pandemic assistance program. At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge John H. Chun said, “These were serious and terrible crimes. [Williams and her co-defendants] stole from programs designed to help members of their community during the pandemic.”

“Paradise Williams was relentless in her efforts to steal pandemic benefits throughout the entire duration of our national emergency, and it is unconscionable that she funded a life of luxury by stealing millions in taxpayer funds that should have prevented King County residents from being evicted in the winter,” said U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. “Combatting pandemic fraud is a priority for our district, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold individuals accountable for exploiting a national crisis.”

According to records in the case, from June 2020 to February 2022, Williams personally submitted 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 over 50 associates, including her five codefendants, to obtain 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 luxury purchases. In addition to fraudulently obtaining over $700,000 directly from administrating agencies, Williams received more than $1.2 million in kickback payments from her associates for facilitating the fraudulent submissions.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Williams will pay restitution in the amounts of $2,791,241 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.

Williams’ codefendants D’Arius Jackson, Tia Robinson, Rayvon Peterson, and David Martinez previously entered guilty pleas for their participation in the scheme. Judge Chun sentenced Jackson to three years in prison and Robinson to 18 months in prison. Martinez is scheduled for sentencing March 11, 2024, and Peterson is scheduled for sentencing March 18, 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 March 5, 2024