Minnesota woman sentenced to 7 years in prison in $7M pandemic aid fraud scheme

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota woman has been sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison for fraudulently applying for roughly $7 million in pandemic aid, $4.7 million of which the government paid out.

U.S. District Judge Eric Tostrud sentenced 40-year-old Bloomington resident Tequisha Solomon on Tuesday. She had pleaded guilty to wire fraud in December 2022.

Solomon’s public defender declined to comment Wednesday.

According to a plea agreement, Solomon received $37,000 in unemployment aid from California when she was living in either Nevada or Minnesota. She also applied for pandemic unemployment aid in Illinois and Minnesota.

Solomon also admitted to charging as much as $2,000 a pop to submit at least 200 fraudulent aid claims on behalf of others, including a prison inmate.

Prosecutors said Solomon lived a “lavish lifestyle” with the money and bought a Jaguar sedan.

In total, prosecutors said the government gave out at least $4.7 million in fraudulent aid because of Solomon, who was ordered to repay the money.

“For many workers and small businesses, these federal pandemic programs were a lifeline that enabled them to stay afloat,” federal prosecutors wrote. “However, these programs unfortunately were also a lucrative way for some, such as Ms. Solomon, to amass fraudulent proceeds for themselves and others, at the expense of taxpayers and to the detriment of eligible hard-hit workers and small businesses.”

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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