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Oklahoma woman pleads guilty in $32 million Covid relief fraud

The scheme involved more than 150 fraudulent applications for loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, which Congress passed to help businesses survive the pandemic.

An Oklahoma woman who was part of a scheme to scam more than $32 million from a Covid relief fund designed to keep businesses afloat pleaded guilty Wednesday, federal prosecutors said.

Amanda J. Gloria, 45, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering, the Justice Department said in a statement.

She was charged in June with helping a New York man get a loan for close to $1 million with the Paycheck Protection Program, using faked payroll and other documents.

She also submitted and got around $421,000 from the pandemic relief program using a trucking business that she owned but that hadn’t been active since 2017, according to the Justice Department and court documents associated with the $1 million case.

The Justice Department said Gloria admitted Wednesday that she conspired to submit at least 153 fraudulent PPP applications on behalf of 111 entities from May 2020 to June 2021.

The entities unlawfully got around $32.5 million in PPP funds, and she got $1.7 million, the Justice Department said in a statement. Gloria admitted that she faked and helped falsify the information in the claims and then submitted them herself or assisted, it said.

Gloria’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night.

Documents relating to the guilty plea didn’t appear to be online Wednesday night.

In the $1 million case, Gloria conspired with Adam Arena of Little Valley, New York, to file for a $954,00 PPP loan that was purported to go to Arena’s business.

The loan was granted, even though Arena's auto group business didn’t have any employees and hadn’t been active since 2018. Arena then paid Gloria around $24,000, court documents in his case say.

Arena pleaded guilty in November to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and to another count that deals with transactions of money obtained illegally, according to the Justice Department.

The Paycheck Protection Program offered forgivable loans as part of Congress’ massive Covid-19 relief program, first passed in 2020. It was intended to help businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.

It was part of the CARES Act, which Congress passed in March 2020, when the pandemic shuttered businesses, schools and large parts of the rest of everyday life in the U.S.

Gloria, who is scheduled to be sentenced July 20, faces up to 40 years in prison, the Justice Department said.

Arena hasn’t yet been sentenced. Prosecutors have asked for a sentence of at least 63 months, or five years and three months, according to court documents in his case.