Charlotte woman pleads guilty to $100,000 COVID-19 relief fraud

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A Charlotte woman pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud for obtaining over $100,000 in COVID-19 relief funds, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

According to court documents, Yesenia Rodriguez, 25, was involved in a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) by obtaining an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) using false information.

Rodriguez admitted in court on Wednesday that from April 2020 through May 2021, she and another person — identified in court documents as G. R. — got two loans under the EIDL and federally subsidized unemployment benefits that added up to over $100,000.

Plea documents show that in July 2020, Rodriguez electronically submitted a fraudulent EIDL application for a hair and nail salon named Yesenia Rodriguez Rodriguez that did not exist.

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Rodriguez had left her job at a national bank and was collecting unemployment benefits.

As a result of the EIDL application, Rodriguez received $37,500 in relief funds and G.R. received $47,500 for a business identified as Company 1, which was also not a real business.

G.R. also collected unemployment benefits fraudulently and at least $112,000 in disaster relief funds.

Rodriguez was released on bond on Wednesday following her plea.

The conspiracy charges faces a maximum term of 5 years and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set.

The EIDL program is part of the CARES Act that established temporary programs to help provide low-interest financing to small businesses, renters, and homeowners.

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