Tacoma – A woman who was part owner and CEO of Tacoma Baking Co. pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to wire fraud in connection with nearly $350,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Jessica Heinlein, aka Jessica DeVisser, obtained three loans using fraudulent information. The largest, some $309,972, was obtained on behalf of Tacoma Baking Company. But much of the information in the applications was fraudulent, and the money was not used exclusively for payroll as required. Heinlein will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle on February 12, 2024.
According to the plea agreement, Heinlein made the first loan application on behalf of Tacoma Baking Company in April 2020. In the application she claimed two of the company’s eight owners were “sole owners” of the company. Heinlein created email accounts in the names of the two people she designated as “sole owners” so that she could respond to any questions from financial institutions. Heinlein forged the signatures of the two people and provided copies of their drivers licenses without their permission. The loan funds were deposited in Heinlein’s personal account, and she used some of the money for her personal expenses. In addition to the loan funds, the Small Business Administration (SBA) also paid nearly $25,000 in interest and processing fees on the loan.
Heinlein sought PPP loans twice more. In January 2021 she applied for a PPP loan under “Jessica DeVisser Consulting,” claiming she was an independent contractor and had a monthly payroll obligation of $7,189. In fact, she was not an independent contractor and had no payroll obligation. She submitted altered financial records to support the application. The $17,900 loan was approved, but before Heinlein could access the money her bank froze the funds and returned them to the lender.
In April 2021, Heinlein tried a second time for a loan for “Jessica DeVisser Consulting.” In this case, she claimed the monthly payroll was $20,833. She received $20,833 in loan funds even though she was not an independent contractor and had no payroll. The funds were used for improper purposes.
Heinlein has agreed to pay restitution to the Small Business Administration of $360,881. The amount includes the loan amounts as well as fees and interest paid by the SBA.
At sentencing, prosecutors will recommend a sentence at the low end of the guidelines range. Judge Settle is not bound by the recommendation and can impose any sentence up to the maximum of twenty years in prison.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mike Dion.