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Charges: Maplewood woman stole millions in COVID relief funds

WCCO Digital Headlines: Afternoon of July 1, 2022
WCCO Digital Headlines: Afternoon of July 1, 2022 01:18

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Two women have been charged with engaging in fraud schemes to steal millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds.

Takara Hughes, 35, of Maplewood, and Tequisha Soloman, 39, of Las Vegas, allegedly submitted fraudulent claims and applications for unemployment benefits meant to provide relief to the American workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Solomon and Hughes resided in Nevada or Minnesota, court documents allege that they falsely claimed they lived in Los Angeles or San Diego and worked as hairstylists in California. California's Employment Development Department paid Solomon at least $37,000 and Hughes at least $46,000 in unemployment benefits.

Solomon and Hughes allegedly falsely claimed they owned cleaning service businesses and fraudulently applied for Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection Program small business loans. 

Additional claims say Solomon and Hughes submitted numerous fraudulent claims on behalf of other people and charged a fee for submitting those claims.

Court documents say Solomon caused the United States and multiple state agencies to pay at least $4.1 million in fraudulent unemployment benefits and EIDL and PPP small business loan proceeds. Hughes is responsible for at least $1.2 million in fraudulent benefits and loan proceeds.

Solomon is charged with six counts of wire fraud and Hughes is charged with five counts of wire fraud. They are scheduled to make their initial appearances in the U.S. District Court on July 15.

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