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Mount Pleasant resident, ex-Boeing manager pleads guilty to PPP loan fraud

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The Small Business Administration loaned a Mount Pleasant bakery more than $122,000 in June 2020 through its emergency Payroll Protection Program. The application contained fraudulent documents, federal prosecutors said. File/AP

A former systems manager at Boeing Co. is pleading guilty to defrauding the government out of more than $122,000 from a federal loan program created to save jobs during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Attorney's office said Suzanne Weintraub and unidentified associates "both known and unknown" illegally obtained the Payroll Protection Program money through a "defunct" retail bakery.

The scheme started in April 2020, according to prosecutors. The U.S. Small Business Administration approved the forgivable $122,445 loan about two months later to a sole proprietorship called Sunny Bee Cookies LLC, which listed the same address as a home Weintraub owns in the RiverTowne neighborhood off S.C. Highway 41 in Mount Pleasant.

The emergency funding was requested to help meet payroll for six jobs, according to a database of the federal loans. The funds were transferred electronically to an account in South Carolina from an out-of-state bank. 

The government said Weintraub included bogus tax and payroll documents in the bakery's application to the SBA.

She was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She faces up to five years in prison, three years in a supervised release program and a fine of $250,000.

Weintraub was not formally indicted. Interim U.S. Attorney Corey Ellis charged her in a Jan. 12 court filing known as an information. By then, she already had signed a plea agreement. Her defense attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Weintraub is required to cooperate with investigators and forfeit any money, property or other assets she received from her role in the conspiracy. Prosecutors are seeking to recoup a minimum of about $37,000 from her.

No hearings have been scheduled in the case.

According to Weintraub's LinkedIn profile, she started working for Boeing in North Charleston in 2015 as an information technology project manager and became a business systems manager in 2018. The planemaker said in a Jan. 13 statement that she's no longer employed with the company.

The government appears to be taking a hard stance on crimes involving funds from the national COVID-19 economic relief program known as the CARES Act. The U.S. Attorney's office announced Thursday that a Blythewood woman was sentenced to two years in prison after she pleaded guilty to obtaining more than $1.2 million in loans by submitting fraudulent documents.

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Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott

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