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DOJ charges owner of three businesses with defrauding PPP of $600,000

The U.S. Capitol at sunset on November 25, 2007. (Courtesy/vgm8383 under Creative Commons)

The Department of Justice (DOJ) charged a Nevada woman Thursday with lying on applications for four Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans she received totaling nearly $600,000.

Karen Chapon “made numerous false and misleading statements about her companies’ respective business operations and payroll expenses, and falsely denied that she had been convicted of a felony in the past five years,” the DOJ said in a release. 

An attorney for Chapon, Kristina Wildeveld, had no immediate comment.

The DOJ alleged that Chapon, who also used the name Karen Hannafious, applied for six PPP loans between April and July for three companies she ran. She received four loans from three banks, including one loan for $537,500, the largest, for a company identified as Heavenly Properties Tahoe. 

According to SBA data, that company was listed as being based in Las Vegas and received a loan of between $350,000 and $1 million on May 19. The SBA said that the company retained 18 employees and the loan was provided by Cross River Bank.  

The other two companies were Desert Sun Events, which received $39,431 in two loans, and Tahoe Weddings and Events, which received $20,000. The SBA did not list the names of companies in data on loans below $150,000.

None of the three companies appear to be currently in business.

The DOJ said that Chapon also lied on the applications about being convicted of a felony within the last five years. In 2016, Chapon pled guilty to three felony counts in Nevada state court of insurance fraud, mortgage lending fraud and theft. 

The case comes amid an effort by the federal government to crack down on fraud in the PPP program, which was established in March in an effort to help small businesses weather the storm caused by steps taken to contain the coronavirus, including the closure of nonessential businesses.

As of Aug. 8, the program has provided about 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion to businesses around the nation, according to the SBA. In Nevada, the program has doled out 45,771 loans totaling $4.2 billion.

This story was updated August 13, 2020, at 11:18 a.m. to note that attorney Kristina Wildeveld had no immediate comment.

Disclosure: The Nevada Independent has received a PPP loan. 

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