2 women indicted on allegations of defrauding millions in pandemic relief funds

Two women are facing federal charges for their alleged roles in a scheme to defraud millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief funds from multiple states, including Minnesota, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

Indictments filed in U.S. District Court on Friday claim 39-year-old Tequisha Solomon of Las Vegas and 35-year-old Takara Hughes of Maplewood filed false applications for pandemic-related unemployment benefits and small business loans for themselves and on behalf of others.

Solomon, who lived in Minnesota and Nevada during the period of the alleged scheme, is accused of receiving unemployment checks from California, Illinois and Minnesota and helping at least 200 others apply for false unemployment and small business loan claims, charging roughly $2,000 per application.

In all, the indictment claims Solomon caused states to pay out a total of $4.1 million in relief funds earmarked through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Meanwhile, prosecutors allege Hughes received pandemic-related unemployment benefits from California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington and nearly $21,000 in Paycheck Protection Program funds for nonexistent businesses.

She also helped at least 40 others file bogus unemployment insurance claims and another 30 apply for small business loans. Like Solomon, Hughes charged a $3,000 fee for each of these applications.

In all, prosecutors say Hughes applied for $1.9 million in fraudulent pandemic relief claims and caused $1.2 million in actual payments.

Hughes and Solomon are charged with five and six counts each of wire fraud. They were both charged via summons and are due to appear in federal court on July 15.