CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A Summerville woman and three others were sentenced in a multimillion-dollar Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) scheme.
Lori Hammond, 54, and co-conspirators Christopher Conrad, Catherine “Cassie” Needham, and Jontrell Wright, were convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud for submitting fraudulent PPP loan applications and misusing the funds, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina.
Officials said that evidence presented during sentencing hearings found that Hammond submitted more than $11 million in fraudulent loan applications for PPP and COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) loans for her personal enrichment and the personal enrichment of her co-conspirators.
Loan applications included inflated employee and payroll funds, which officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said were often submitted on behalf of companies that did not exist or were inactive and included fake business addresses and fraudulent tax documents.
Hammond and the co-conspirators were paid more than $5.8 million in PPP and EIDL loans.
“Hammond personally received $3,162,038.50 in PPP and EIDL loan funds. Hammond thereafter spent the money on personal expenses, including purchasing a home, luxury vehicles, a golf cart, and plastic surgery,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Hammond was sentenced to 80 months in prison on October 17, followed by a three-year term of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $2,722,932.50 in restitution, representing the remaining outstanding unpaid loan funds.
Meanwhile, officials said that Conrad fraudulently received $898,300.00 in loan funds and mostly spent the funds on unapproved personal expenses. He was sentenced to 12 months and one-day incarceration, followed by a three-year term of supervised release on Nov. 14. Conrad is ordered to pay $898,300.00 in restitution.
Needham fraudulently received $1,244,200.00 and used the funds for improper personal expenses, including purchasing property, a golf cart, a pool, home improvements, and plastic surgery. He was sentenced to 21 months incarceration, followed by a three-year term of supervised release back in September, and was ordered to pay $1,244,200 in restitution.
Finally, officials said that Wright fraudulently received $561,700.00 in loan funds and spent the funds on unapproved personal expenses. He was sentenced in December 2022 to 15 months incarceration, followed by a three-year term of supervised release. He was ordered to pay $561,700 in restitution.
“While millions of South Carolinians were struggling during the pandemic, these defendants defrauded the systems meant to provide relief,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina Adair F. Boroughs. “We will continue to pursue bad actors such as these and hold them accountable for exploiting these resources for their own gain.”
This case was investigated by the FBI Columbia Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Limehouse prosecuted this case.
The Honorable David C. Norton presided over the sentencing hearings in Charleston.