ST. LOUIS – A Florissant woman admitted to two fraud schemes in which she obtained two pandemic-era loans worth more than $100,000 combined.
Lakenya M. Hobbs, 40, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to one count of bank fraud and one count of wire fraud.
According to a plea agreement, Hobbs admitted to defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program, which provided forgivable loans to small businesses to help them save jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The loans were based on payroll expenses and the number of employees, among other factors.
In March 2021, Hobbs submitted a loan application to Banterra Bank containing false information and led to an $81,000 check. Hobbs did not use the money to save jobs, but instead made purchases at electronic stores, restaurants and for airfare. She also took some out in cash. Six months later, she applied for loan forgiveness, falsely stating in the application that she used the PPP money for payroll. She was granted forgiveness.
In May 2021, Hobbs also submitted a loan application to Harvest Small Business Finance. She falsely inflated her gross income on the application and got a $20,000 loan. Around six months later, she again applied to have this loan forgiven and was again granted forgiveness.
Hobbs faces up to 30 years in prison. She will also be ordered to repay the money acquired through her loans. Her sentencing hearing is set for Feb. 22, 2023.