CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Four Lowcountry residents on Tuesday pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal government of nearly $5 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

Lori Hammond (53) of Summerville, Catherine Needham (36) of Manning, Jontrell Wright (35) of Holly Hill, and Christopher Conrad (39) of Holly Hill all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud in connection to the scheme.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina, Hammond submitted “multiple materially fraudulent PPP loan applications … on behalf of herself and her co-conspirators” over a period of about seven months from June of 2020 to July of 2021.

Hammond “used the identity of a deceased individual, misrepresented the number of employees and payroll expenses of the entities seeking the loans, attached fraudulent tax documents, and made numerous other false and misleading statements.”

After receiving $4,721,638.50 total, the defendants used the funds “for non-qualifying, non-business-related purposes, including homes, property, cars, and other personal purchases.”

Each defendant is facing a maximum of twenty years in prison plus three years supervision and a fine of up to $250,000 restitution.