Defendant Also Ordered To Pay More Than $250,000 In Restitution
OKLAHOMA CITY – Today, JILL NICOLE FORD, 32, formerly of Edmond, Oklahoma, was sentenced to serve 20 months in federal prison and pay $252,143.35 in restitution for bank fraud and money laundering related to a loan obtained through the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP), a lending facility established by the Federal Reserve Board and supported with funding authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), announced U. S. Attorney Robert J. Troester.
The CARES Act provided more than $2 trillion in relief for individuals and businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The CARES Act also authorized the Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board to create the MSLP to promote lending to small-and medium-sized businesses affected by the pandemic.
On January 7, 2022, Ford was charged by information with fraudulently obtaining a Main Street Lending Program Loan for her business, Oliver & Olivia Apparel, Inc. According to public documents, Ford obtained the loan from Citizens Bank of Edmond on September 11, 2020, and executed a loan agreement falsely representing she would use MSLP funds for working capital and payroll only. She also falsely represented she would not make financial distributions to herself as the owner of Oliver & Olivia Apparel, Inc. The information further alleged that Ford laundered the loan proceeds by using them to pay for construction of her personal home. Other loan funds were used to purchase a luxury SUV for Ford’s personal use. Ford pleaded guilty to both charges in the information on January 20, 2022.
“Despite her promise to use these taxpayer funds to pay for necessary business payroll expenses and working capital during the pandemic, Ms. Ford instead chose to fund her own personal lavish lifestyle, “said U. S. Attorney Robert J. Troester. “I applaud the teamwork of our prosecutors and federal law enforcement partners, who continue to aggressively pursue those who take advantage of taxpayer funds.”
“Jill Ford defrauded the Main Street Lending Program and has now been brought to justice for her actions,” said Jon Ellwanger, Special Agent in Charge, Western Region, Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Let this serve as a warning that while the pandemic may be over, we remain committed to vigorously pursuing those who defraud pandemic relief programs. I commend our agents and our federal law enforcement partners for their hard work and persistence and thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case.”
“Ms. Ford engaged in a scheme to defraud the Main Street Lending Program that was designed to help small/medium-sized businesses and nonproﬁt organizations,” said Brian D. Miller, Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR). “SIGPR is glad to have played a significant role teaming with its law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office to hold this individual accountable for her actions.”
At the sentencing hearing today, U.S. District Judge Jodi D. Dishman sentenced Ford to serve 20 months in federal prison, and to pay restitution in the amount of $252,143.35. In announcing the sentence, the court noted Ford’s lack of previous criminal conduct, but also noted the seriousness of the offenses, describing Ford’s actions as “crimes of greed and selfishness.” Judge Dishman ordered Ford to self-surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on January 2, 2024, to begin serving her sentence.
This case is the result of an investigation by SIGPR, Oklahoma City FBI Field Office, Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigations, the United States Secret Service, Federal Reserve Board Office of Inspector General, and Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica L. Perry prosecuted the case.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice 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, among other methods, 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. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
In March of 2022, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and SIGPR entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to further strengthen and enhance the already existing cooperative efforts to investigate and prosecute fraud involving loans, loan guarantees and other relief made by the Secretary of the Treasury under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, which included over $2 trillion in emergency financial assistance designed to provide immediate help for American businesses and individuals. More information on this partnership can be found here.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Reference is made to court filings for further information.
Source: U.S. Attorney's Office press release