2 people from West Richland indicted on COVID-19 Relief fraud

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A federal grand jury said there is evidence one of the people bought a house with the funds while the other allegedly lied about business funding.
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WEST RICHLAND – Two people from West Richland are facing charges after a federal grand jury found evidence they allegedly lied and falsified documents in order to receive COVID-19 Relief Funding. One of those accused allegedly bought a house for personal use with the half a million dollars in funds they received.

Jimia Cain, 52, is charged with seven counts of fraud. Cain allegedly applied for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) back in 2020 and received over $330,000. Cain allegedly said she needed the funding for her business. Vanessa R. Waldref, who is the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said there is evidence Cain made false statements and produced fraudulent documents in order to obtain her funding. Cain allegedly tried to get another loan for $280,000, however, her request was rejected.

Andrei Borgheriu, 45, is charged with three counts of fraud after he received $500,000 in EIDL funding. Borgheriu allegedly claimed he needed the money for his company, Artway Transport, LLC. Waldref said Borgheriu reported the funding would be used as working capital for his company, however, he allegedly used the funds to buy a house in West Richland, in cash. Now that Borgheriu is under criminal indictment and the funds used to purchase the house are in question, the U.S. is seeking forfeiture of the residence.

“COVID-19 relief programs were designed to lift up our community during crisis, and due to the number of people and businesses that requested funding, some deserving small businesses were not able to obtain funding to keep their businesses in operation,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref.

The funding from PPP and EIDL loans was made possible due to the CARES Act, which was signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020. This funding was made available so small businesses could request funding during the pandemic to help ease the burden on small and local businesses. The PPP was designed to be used for payroll and other eligible expenses. The EIDL could provide a low interest loan that could be deferred until the pandemic was determined to be over.

Waldref, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies created a COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force in February of 2022 to investigate fraudulent practices with COVID-19 relief funds in Eastern Washington.

“As the Strike Force’s work moves forward, we will continue taking aggressive action to pursue property that was purchased with fraudulently-obtained funds, to ensure that those funds are returned to the public and that wrongdoers are not able to reap the benefit of homes and other property purchased with fraudulently-obtained funds,” Waldref said.

If found guilty, Cain faces 30 years in federal prison. Borgheriu is facing up to 20 years in prison on his charges.

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