Two St. Paul-area women charged with $5.4 million fraud involving pandemic benefits – Twin Cities

Two St. Paul-area women submitted hundreds of bogus claims to coronavirus pandemic relief programs, forcing the U.S. government and several states to pay out at least $5.4 million in fraudulent benefits, according to two acts of indictments filed in the U.S. District Court in Minnesota.

Tequisha Solomon, 39, was charged with six counts of wire fraud and Takara Hughes, 35, with five counts.

According to indictments filed last week:

Solomon, who lived in Woodbury and South St. Paul before moving to Las Vegas, accepted charges of about $2,000 each for filing at least 200 bogus claims for benefits, including one on behalf of a prison inmate of Minnesota.

Between June 2020 and January 2022, she had at least $4.2 million paid out in fraudulent benefits through the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Disaster Loans, and state and federal unemployment programs. federal government.

In addition to helping others with their frauds, Solomon directly got his own benefits: $18,000 in unemployment benefits from Minnesota, $25,000 from Illinois and $37,000 from California, plus $41,666 in loans. Federal PPPs.

The government says she used the proceeds to buy a Range Rover in August 2020, swapped for a Land Rover Velar in April 2021 and swapped again for a Jaguar sedan in January 2022.

Solomon’s attorney, Will Walker, said “she maintains her innocence and we hope to have a very vigorous trial”.

“There can be very, very reasonable and completely benign explanations…and that’s what we’re working on right now,” he added.

HUGHES

Hughes, who has lived in Maplewood, Inver Grove Heights and St. Paul, is charged with an identical scheme.

Between June 2020 and July 2021, she is accused of fraudulently requesting $1.9 million in pandemic-related funds and forcing the federal government and states to pay out at least $1.2 million.

Much of this was on behalf of others. She typically charged people $3,000, filing at least 40 false claims for unemployment benefits and at least 30 for small business loans, according to the indictment.

She also got about $5,500 in unemployment benefits for herself from Minnesota and $46,000 from California, also applying in Washington and Louisiana. Her applications for EIDL loans were denied, but she received $20,832 in PPP loans.

Hughes’ attorney did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday.

CRIMINAL HISTORY

Hughes has a history of financial problems, including a bankruptcy filing and numerous small claims, but no major crimes.

Solomon was convicted of the felony in seven separate criminal cases, according to court records. They involved writing bad checks, stealing a rental car, running away from the police, and receiving stolen property. His most recent conviction in Minnesota was for second-degree assault for shooting a woman with a gun in October 2020 while they argued about ex-boyfriends outside Willard’s Liquor in St.Paul.

She was sentenced in the case in February to 120 days of home surveillance with a suspended prison sentence of 51 months.

The women are due in court on wire fraud charges on July 15.

About Hubert Lee

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