A Suwanee woman has been sentenced to federal prison for her involvement in managing a nationwide conspiracy to defraud a COVID-19 relief program of $3.6 million.

Lakisha Swope, 45, was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. She was ordered to pay $3,626,961 in restitution to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Congress enacted the Paycheck Protection Program to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Swope used the program to commit a nationwide fraud scheme resulting in a nearly four-million-dollar theft of COVID relief funds,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a news release announcing Swope’s sentencing. “Her sentence reflects the significance of her criminal conduct and demonstrates the dedication of our office, and federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, to ensure that individuals who seek to exploit this critical economic safety net are held accountable for their crimes.”

According to the news release, which was issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia, FBI agents executing a search warrant at Swope’s Suwanee residence seized a number of documents that provided evidence of her role in managing the conspiracy, including false PPP applications in the names of dozens of businesses. According to the release, Swope flew around the country, including to Texas, Missouri and Florida, to collect loan fees from business owners she was using to file false PPP applications. Her criminal conduct led to banks making $3,626,961 in fraudulent PPP payments, the release states, and Swope used the fraudulently obtained funds to purchase luxury clothing, dine at restaurants, book hotel stays and fund vacation rentals.

“While businesses were suffering and trying their best to make it through the pandemic, Swope chose greed,” said Keri Farley, special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta. “Her greed impacted every tax-paying citizen. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will persist in unraveling these fraud schemes and bring criminals to justice.”

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