Olive Branch woman charged for defrauding COVID-19 relief programs 

Five current or former IRS employees have been charged with schemes to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, federal stimulus programs authorized as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The accused includes a woman from Olive Branch.

Fatina Hewitt, 35, of Olive Branch was charged with one count of wire fraud. Hewitt was employed by the IRS as a Management and Program Assistant in Information Technology. According to the information, Hewitt submitted multiple fraudulent EIDL Program applications on behalf of a purported fashion business, seeking $338,900 in EIDL Program loans and obtaining $28,900 in loan funds. Court documents allege that Hewitt spent the loan funds on Gucci clothing and a trip to Las Vegas. On Oct. 4, 2022, Hewitt pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

“The IRS employees charged in these cases allegedly abused the trust placed in them by the public,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Criminal Division is committed to safeguarding that public trust and protecting pandemic relief programs for the American people.”

“This matter demonstrates the brazenness with which bad actors have taken advantage of federal programs meant to help those who suffered most from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Director for COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Kevin Chambers. “The Justice Department will continue to work hard to root out PPP and EIDL Program fraud, including that committed by government employees.”

According to court documents, the defendants allegedly obtained funds under the PPP and EIDL Program by submitting false and fraudulent loan applications that collectively sought over $1 million. They then used the loan funds for purposes not authorized by the PPP or EIDL Program, but instead for cars, luxury goods, and personal travel, including trips to Las Vegas.

“These individuals – acting out of pure greed – abused their positions by taking government funds meant for citizens and businesses who desperately needed it,” said U.S. Attorney Kevin G. Ritz for the Western District of Tennessee. “I thank our law enforcement partners for rooting out this fraud. Our office will not hesitate to pursue and charge individuals who steal from our nation’s taxpayers.”

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob provides content for DeSoto County News and occasionally is heard on the OB Pod podcast talking about area happenings. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

2 thoughts on “Olive Branch woman charged for defrauding COVID-19 relief programs 

  • October 5, 2022 at 10:01 am
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    Why are there no pictures of her? I live close to this area. I want to know what the criminals look like.

    Reply
    • October 5, 2022 at 1:12 pm
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      Photos were not provided by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

      Reply

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