ELGIN, IL — A 43-year-old Lake in the Hills woman is accused of applying for COVID-19 funds meant to keep businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic for a restaurant that had already closed, authorities said last week. Melissa Turasky, former owner of Gifford's Kitchen and Social, was charged with one count of bank fraud and one count of making false statements to a financial institution in federal court for allegations she fraudulently obtained more than $175,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program loan from the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, according to a news release from a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Gifford's Kitchen and Social had already closed when Turasky is accused of providing fake information regarding payroll costs and business operating expenses, according to the indictment. At the point that she applied for the PPP loans, Gifford's had been evicted from its restaurant rental space, which had been located at 2300 Bushwood Drive, and by the end of March, all of Gifford's employees had been terminated.
“The Paycheck Protection Program was designed as a lifeline for small businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch, Jr.. “Our office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to root out abuse of the important relief programs established under the CARES Act.”
If convicted, Turasky could face up to 30 years in federal prison on each charge.
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 Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.