Police: Inmates came out of Illinois prison on pandemic loans

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — More than two dozen people have been accused in Illinois of fraudulently receiving pandemic aid money, with authorities claiming some of them were behind bars when they used their aid money to secure bail deposit and get out of prison.

Joliet Police Chief William Evans said Wednesday that 25 people were part of the alleged fraud scheme to obtain Paycheck Protection Program checks while not conducting actual business.

As of Wednesday, 15 of the accused had been arrested, and arrest warrants were pending for ten others. They all face charges including wire fraud, theft and loan fraud, officials said.

Evans said each fraudulently obtained loan was between $19,000 and $20,000, with the fraud costing taxpayers over $500,000.

Investigators determined that some of the defendants were inmates at the Will County Jail in Joliet, a suburb of Chicago, when they applied for and received loans under the pandemic program, and then used the money to pay their crime cases out of jail to bind.

Evans said some of the defendants were in custody and had used prison phones “to complete the fraudulent PPP loan process.”

“Some of the victims committed to their crime cases days after receiving their fraudulent PPP loan,” he told a news conference on Wednesday.

Joliet Police Detective James Kilgore said investigators obtained bank records and it “appears that some of these individuals actually used that money to gang up on a crime case.”

The Associated Press left a message with the Joliet Police Department on Thursday for more information on the allegations.

Also participating in the investigation were the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Department of Labor Inspector General and the Will County Attorney’s Office.

Emergency loans made available to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic were last year added to a list of government programs deemed at high risk of waste, fraud or mismanagement.

In August, the US Secret Service announced it had recovered $286 million in fraudulently obtained pandemic loans and would be returning the money to the Small Business Administration.

“It’s like the pandemic. It’s also absolutely everywhere,” Homeland Security Special Agent Sean Fitzgerald said at Wednesday’s news conference in Joliet.

https://fox2now.com/news/illinois/police-inmates-got-out-of-illinois-jail-with-pandemic-loans/ Police: Inmates came out of Illinois prison on pandemic loans

Sarah Y. Kim

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