A federal jury in the Northern District of Georgia has convicted a Georgia attorney and former City of Atlanta police officer of fraudulently obtaining over $7 million in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Shelitha Robertson, 62, of Atlanta, an experienced lawyer, was found guilty of multiple counts of fraud, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud itself, and money laundering, according to the news release from the DOJ.
Court documents and evidence presented at trial revealed that Robertson conspired to submit fraudulent PPP loan applications for four businesses she owned. These applications grossly inflated the number of employees and average monthly payroll, resulting in significantly larger loans than legitimately entitled.
The deceit didn’t end at big numbers on paper. Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced that Robertson and her unnamed co-conspirator also submitted fraudulent tax documents to back up their claims.
These false statements were pivotal in swindling the PPP loans that she would later utilize to fund a lavish lifestyle, which included the purchase of a Rolls-Royce and a 10-carat diamond ring for $148,000, as well as significant money transfers to her relatives and accomplice.
The conviction followed carefully laid counts: one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, three counts of wire fraud itself, and finally, one count of money laundering. With each wire fraud and conspiracy count carrying a possible 20-year imprisonment sentence and the money laundering count up to 10 years, Robertson’s future now hangs in the balance, with sentencing set for April 11, 2024.
What makes Robertson’s case notable is that it is a part of a broader $15 million PPP fraud conspiracy for which her co-conspirator has already pleaded guilty.
Robertson formerly served as an assistant city attorney and as a police officer for the City of Atlanta. She unsuccessfully ran as a Democratic candidate in a 2015 election for a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, and also ran for a judge seat on the Fulton County Superior Court.
Prosecutors said Robertson schemed with Chandra Norton, her best friend and personal attorney, to receive as much in PPP loans as they could for their businesses. They said Robertson gave $400,000 of the funds she received to Norton and transferred $50,000 to her daughter, who has not been charged.
Robertson blamed her companies’ fraudulent loan applications on Norton. Her lead attorney Craig A. Gillen said Norton was “financially desperate” and an “evil genius” who used Robertson’s personal and business information to enrich herself.
But prosecutor Bernita Malloy said Norton had submitted false loan applications at the direction of Robertson. Robertson’s defense “defies logic and is absolutely ludicrous,” Malloy said.
Federal prosecutor Ariel Glaser said Robertson had threatened to kill Norton when she was arrested and separately threatened another person who filed a police report. Gillen said those comments were made in frustration.
BREAKING: Democrat attorney who once ran for judge convicted in $7 million COVID relief fraud case.
Shelitha Robertson, an attorney who once ran as a Democrat to become a superior court judge, was found guilty by a federal jury in the Northern District of Georgia for… pic.twitter.com/30uwkjeyQZ
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