Phoenix, Arizona – Celestine Coretta Strong, 46, of Phoenix, Arizona, was sentenced October 31, 2022 to five years in prison by U.S. District Judge Susan M. Brnovic. The court also ordered Strong to pay her $327,448 in damages and hand over her 2016 Mercedes-Benz E400 and her 2018 Dodge Challenger. Strong previously pleaded guilty to one of his counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
A powerful loan fraudulently obtained from the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program, a program designed to help small businesses meet their paycheck obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Strong submitted loan applications using falsified employee and wage information, fake bank statements, and other false information to obtain 17 different loans totaling over $3.5 million. conspired to submit. She fraudulently obtained approximately $400,000 and used the proceeds to purchase luxury cars, among other things.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to work with agencies across the government to coordinate Department of Justice resources and work to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. strengthened. The Task Force will step up efforts to investigate and prosecute the most guilty domestic and international offenders, strengthen and incorporate existing coordination mechanisms, and develop resources to uncover wrongdoers, among other methods. Identifying technologies, their schemes, and sharing and leveraging information and insights gained from previous enforcement efforts.
The Homeland Security Investigation Service conducted an investigation into the case with the assistance of the Financial Inspector General for Tax Administration and the Inspector General’s Small Business Administration. Kevin M. Rupp, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Phoenix, Arizona, handled the prosecution.
Case number: CR-21-00335-PHX-SMB
Release number: 2022-203_Strong
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