SWAINSBORO, Ga. - Feds say an Emanuel County woman pled guilty to wire fraud in federal court for creating a fake business to steal receive funds from a federal COVID-19 small business relief program.
Tracy Kirkland, 40, of Swainsboro, must repay $66,400 and will forfeit a 2019 Dodge Charger and $16,250, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. She could be required to serve three years on supervised release after a prison term.
The charge carries a maximum fine of $1 million and up to 30 years in prison.
"Congress provided funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Security Act specifically to help financially struggling businesses during the pandemic," said Estes. "Tracy Kirkland stole from those funds, and she is being held accountable for that theft."
Investigators said Kirkland falsely claimed she owned a business called "Kirklands Hair N Beauty," with three employees. Feds said in August 2020 Kirkland received a federally-guaranteed loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program comprised for $66,400.
Investigators said Kirkland, a previously convicted felon, used the funds to purchase a 2019 Dodge Charger, withdrew large amounts of cash and made other non-business-related purchases with funds.
Officials said the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General — with assistance from the Swainsboro Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — is investigating the case.
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