Virginia salon owner pleads guilty to defrauding government

ABINGDON, Va. (AP) — A federal prosecutor says a Virginia hair and nail salon operator has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a scheme in which she filed for pandemic unemployment assistance despite reopening her shop.

U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh says Mandi Dawn Hammond waived her right to be indicted and pleaded guilty this week to fraud in connection with a major disaster or emergency benefits program and mail fraud.

The executive order was lifted in April 2020, and while Hammond reopened her business, prosecutors say she continued filing for pandemic unemployment benefits from May 2020 through August 2021, collecting at least $29,000.

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