A federal grand jury has indicted 35-year-old Nichelle Henson of Baltimore Maryland for bank fraud and false statements. The indictment is directly related to the accusation that Henson filed fraudulent applications to obtain Paycheck Protection Program loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Although the indictment was returned on December 7, 2021, it was unsealed on December 15.
The 18-count indictment shows that Henson had incorporated several businesses in Maryland including Crowns Construction LLC, One Stop For Services LLC, Your Friendly Tax Preparation Services LLC, Peace of Mind Services Inc, Nichelle Henson Campaign LLC, and Women Entrepreneurs Can Success LLC. Then, she supposedly opened bank accounts in the names of the businesses before getting Tax Identification Numbers from the IRS for each.
Crowns Construction, Nichelle Henson Campaign, Your Friendly Tax Preparation Services, Peace of Mind, and Women Entrepreneurs Can Success had no employees for tax year 2019. Henson submitted forms with the IRS suggesting One Stop for Services had three employees although she did not submit forms showing the required taxes had been withheld or deposited with the IRS for those workers.
The indictment also alleges that Henson filed fraudulent applications on behalf of the businesses through the PPP and EIDL programs starting in April 2020. The programs were designed to provide emergency financial assistance to Americans suffering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Henson is accused of making false statements on six fraudulent applications filed on the Small Business Administration’s website to acquire EIDL grants. Although four applications were denied, two were approved and Henson allegedly obtained $18,000 as a result.
Among the alleged false statements on the applications, Henson is accused of lying about the businesses having between five and 14 employees, gross revenue between $36,000 and $1.3 million, and cost of goods sold between $13,000 and $700,000. Furthermore, Henson allegedly submitted six fraudulent applications and obtained $998,590 in loans through the PPP program. Again, the applications supposedly had false statements, misrepresentations, and omissions related to the businesses.
Henson is accused of trying to use similar methods to obtain more than $800,000 in Second Draw PPP loans and received $676,250. Henson is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. If convicted, the accused will face a maximum sentence of 30 years for each of the 12 counts of bank fraud and a maximum of five years for each of the six counts of making a false statement. Further details can be found here.