Former Georgia mayoral candidate Olivia Ware was sentenced to prison for her role in a scheme that stole thousands from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
The PPP grants were issued to businesses by the federal government during the coronavirus pandemic. The funds were intended to help companies maintain payments to their employees.
Ware will serve two years in prison and three years of supervised release, in addition to paying $323,100 in restitution.
“Ware shamelessly took advantage of a program designed to assist others in need during an unprecedented challenge to our nation,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “In her various public roles, including running for mayor, Ware asked people to trust in her ability to lead. Unfortunately, what she has shown is a willingness to defraud taxpayers to enrich herself.”
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Ware created a company called Let’s Talk About the Family, Inc. just before the pandemic. However, she did not file any federal or state records that indicated she was currently paying employees.
Once the PPP program started, Ware submitted false records to the PPP lender in order to secure the loan. The documents claimed “to show Let’s Talk was earning millions of dollars in revenue and had 54 employees prior to the pandemic.” But, when asked by investigators, many of the alleged employees had never heard of the company.
“It is shameful that Ware tried to profit from a bad situation. This scheme took desperately needed money away from people struggling during the COVID pandemic,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “This isn’t a victimless crime; every time a fraudster like this stole money, legitimate applicants were unable to get those funds to help themselves and their families.”
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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Georgia Star News and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Olivia Ware” by Olivia Ware For Mayor. Background Photo “Courtroom” by Sadmir Kanovicki.