(CMR) Aspiring US judge Shelitha Robertson (62) was found guilty last week of defrauding the federal government of more than $7 million in COVID-19 relief funds, which were used to buy a Rolls-Royce car, a motorcycle, and a 10-carat diamond ring for $148,000, among other things.
A jury deliberated for about 13 hours over two days before finding Shelitha Robertson guilty on three counts of wire fraud and single counts of money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Robertson, an Atlanta lawyer and business owner who was previously employed by the city as a police officer and attorney, fraudulently obtained the money in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Robertson, of Atlanta, conspired to submit PPP loan applications on behalf of four businesses she owned. The loan applications falsely inflated the number of employees and average monthly payroll for each of the four businesses, inducing larger PPP loans than Robertson could legitimately obtain.
The US Department of Justice also reported that Robertson and a co-conspirator also caused the submission of false tax documents to support the false statements in each loan application.
Robertson is scheduled to be sentenced on April 11, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for money laundering. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Robertson is the second defendant to be convicted as part of the Justice Department’s prosecution of an approximately $15 million PPP fraud conspiracy. Robertson’s co-conspirator pleaded guilty prior to trial.
In May 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Justice Department in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud.
The task force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts.