NYC Woman Receives Sentence for Role in COVID Relief Fraud Scheme 

United States: A Brooklyn woman who pleaded guilty to fraud regarding different COVID-era relief schemes was sentenced Thursday to three years of supervision and $650,000 in restitution. 

Prosecutors remarked that Chanette Lewis, 32, took part in some of these plans by using her position at a call center, which was one of the New York program initiatives meant to give healthcare workers isolated rooms in the hotels. It was claimed that she gave out free hotel rooms to people who were not real healthcare workers or COVID-19 patients, herself included. 

Manipulating COVID-19 Safe-Lodging Program 

“During the pandemic, this defendant exploited a COVID-19 safe-lodging program for her personal profit; today, she faces the consequences of her criminal conduct. I thank New York City Emergency Management for reporting this matter,” New York Department of Investigation Commissioner Jocelyn Strauber said in a statement.

Extent of Fraud 

It is the latest example of Americans allegedly swindling out an estimated $280 billion in pandemic government relief across the U.S. and New York. The sentencing on Thursday was part of the whole case of $400,000 of fraud in the hotel program. 

Coordinated Scams 

Lewis confessed to defrauding the emergency programs, the U.S. Attorney in New York said in a statement, and she separately made-up legal documents purporting to come from judges, prosecutors, and doctors to get 30 people into public housing or into larger public housing apartments. 

By using the stolen personal details of actual health care workers, she, along with three other defendants, is alleged to have secured the hotel rooms and then advertised them on Facebook to rent out as per DOI Statement. Co-defendants in the case have admitted to applying for unemployment benefits from different states and to having fraudulently received Small Business Administration loans. 

The Associated Press’s messages were left on the phone and email of a lawyer advising in the plea deal in the case. It wasn’t immediately clear if that was her current lawyer; the requests to prosecutors and investigators for updated contact info were not immediately answered, as reported by Associated Press. 

Legal Consequences 

Lewis was given probation for three years and had to forfeit $290,000 and pay another $360,000 in penalties. Her co-defendants were sentenced to shorter sentences or have not been sentenced yet.