Norfolk man pleads guilty to COVID-19 loan fraud scheme


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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – The Department of Justice said a previously convicted felon pleaded guilty on Friday to engaging in a COVID-19 related loan fraud scheme with losses of $196,000.

Authorities said 40-year-old Joseph Cherry of Norfolk, was previously convicted of federal felony charges involving fraud and money laundering, engaged in a scheme to obtain COVID-related loan benefits through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and affiliated lenders.

According to court documents, in March and April 2020, Cherry submitted multiple applications for PPP and EIDL loans intended for coronavirus economic relief.

The DOJ said Cherry provided false information on the loan applications related to his claimed businesses, income, employment, and his criminal record.

The Department of Justice said Cherry fraudulently obtained $196,900 in loan proceeds from the U.S. Treasury into a bank account he established at Langley Federal Credit Union.

In addition, in April 2020, he withdrew over $100,000 in the form of cash and a cashier’s check and made various purchases inconsistent with the purposes of the PPP and EIDL programs.

Cherry pleaded guilty to wire fraud and theft of government property and he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison when sentenced on March 11, 2020.

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