NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A couple who previously lived in Hampton pleaded guilty Wednesday to submitting fraudulent disaster-related loan applications for COVID-19 pandemic funding.
Malik and Jenna Mitchum worked together to receive disaster-related loan benefits in the form of Small Business Administration (SBA) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Both claimed they were owners of at least five small businesses that were struggling during the pandemic, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.
Malik Mitchum was a junior enlisted member of the U.S. Air Force and Jenna Mitchum was unemployed, according to the news release.
Between March 2020 and May 2021, both submitted at least 19 fraudulent applications for pandemic-related loan benefits. They intended to defraud the government out of more than $5 million.
The actual loss to the U.S. and financial institutions participating in the pandemic relief totaled more than $1.4 million.
The DOJ said the Mitchums spent much of the money on luxury items, like a $38,700 Rolex watch.
Malik and Jenna Mitchum pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution and face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
Both are scheduled to be sentenced on July 29.