COLOMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – United States Attorney Corey F. Ellis announced today that Bridgett Dorsey, 39, of Blythewood, was sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to committing more than 1.2 million dollars of fraud related to Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (“CARES”) and to commit tax evasion. The sentence is the first in the District of South Carolina for a case involving CARES Act fraud.
“The defendant in this case not only stole from the federal government and engaged in tax evasion, but prevented funds from reaching those who needed them most. The fact that this happened during a pandemic makes his crimes particularly egregious,” said U.S. Attorney Ellis. “This case highlights the Department of Justice’s commitment to prosecuting those who illegally take advantage of COVID-19 to line their pockets. and expertise of our federal partners has resulted in the recovery of a substantial amount of stolen funds.
“It is always a shame to see the widespread abuse of programs designed to help everyday people fight the pandemic,” said Brian Thomas, assistant special agent in charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, Charlotte Field Office. “The IRS will continue to thoroughly investigate and vigorously target those who exploit the pandemic to commit tax evasion, and this case is a testament to those efforts.”
“The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is aggressively pursuing those who attempt to defraud the American public by fraudulently obtaining taxpayer-funded loans through the Coronavirus Paycheck Protection Program, Aid, Relief , and Economic Security Act, which is designed to help legitimate business owners during the pandemic,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure this criminal activity is held accountable.”
The CARES Act is a federal law enacted in March 2020 designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the coronavirus. The two main sources of assistance provided by the CARES Act were the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) and the Economic Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) program. PPP loans consisted of more than $640 billion in small business forgivable loans for payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities. The EIDL program provided low-interest loans to business owners to pay for items such as accounts payable and other bills that could not be paid due to COVID-19.
Evidence presented to the court showed that between April 2020 and August 2020, Dorsey fraudulently requested and received $1,253,460.35 through seven EIDL loans and two PPP loans, as well as two EIDL cash advances, at the names of seven businesses she allegedly owned. . Each of the applications submitted by Dorsey contained materially false information, including an overstatement of business revenues, an increase in the number of employees, or the provision of addresses where the businesses did not exist. In some cases, Dorsey created and submitted false documents or set up businesses for the sole purpose of obtaining the loans.
During their investigation into Dorsey’s coronavirus-related fraud, IRS and TIGTA agents discovered that Dorsey had also been involved in preparing fraudulent tax returns through one of his companies. , Virtual Financial Services. Specifically, Dorsey prepared multiple tax returns on behalf of others and claimed deductions she knew to be false.
Quick work by the IRS and TIGTA resulted in the agencies seizing more than $500,000 in stolen funds that were in bank accounts controlled by Dorsey, and another account of approximately $130,000 was frozen. These funds will be applied to the restitution that Dorsey owes in the case. Additionally, Dorsey paid approximately $184,000 in restitution before sentencing.
Senior United States District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie sentenced Dorsey to 24 months in federal prison, followed by three years of court-ordered supervision. There is no parole in the federal system. The court also ordered him to pay more than $1 million in restitution resulting from his CARES Act fraud, in addition to $13,865 in restitution to the IRS as a result of his tax evasion.
The case was investigated by the IRS and TIGTA. Assistant United States Attorney Derek Shoemake, who is also the Bureau’s coronavirus fraud coordinator, prosecuted the case.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or through the complaint form online from NCDF at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.