An Emanuel County woman who admitted creating a fake business and using it to receive funding from a federal COVID-19 small business relief program was sentenced in federal court.
Tracy Kirkland, 41, of Swainsboro, was sentenced at the Federal Courthouse in Statesboro Thursday to 33 months in prison after pleading guilty to an Information charging her with Wire Fraud, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hal also ordered Kirkland to pay restitution of $66,400, forfeit a 2019 Dodge Charger and $16,250, and serve three years of supervised release after completion of her prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Tracy Kirkland has a disturbing history of two decades as a petty thief, and was on state probation when she stepped her crimes up another notch by defrauding the COVID-19 relief program,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “She is once again being held accountable for her criminal activity.”
As described in court documents and testimony, in August 2020 Kirkland received a federally guaranteed loan for $66,400 under the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program comprised of funds appropriated by the CARES Act.
In applying for the funding, Kirkland falsely claimed to own “Kirklands Hair N Beauty,” a fictitious business with three employees in Swainsboro, that had suffered economic harm because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Soon after receiving the SBA loan proceeds into her personal account, Kirkland, a previously convicted felon who was on state probation, used the funds to purchase a 2019 Dodge Charger R/T; made large cash withdrawals from her bank account; and made other non-business-related purchases.
“Lying to gain access to economic stimulus funds will be met with justice,” said SBA OIG’s Eastern Region Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite. “Greed has no place in SBA’s programs that are intended to provide assistance to the nation’s small businesses struggling with the pandemic challenges. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their dedication and pursuit of justice.”
The U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General investigated the case with assistance from the Swainsboro Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Ammunition, with prosecution for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven H. Lee and Asset Recovery Unit Chief Xavier A. Cunningham.