SC woman gets prison for misusing $1.2M in COVID-19 funds

Posted at 2:25 PM, January 14, 2022 and last updated 9:46 PM, July 18, 2023

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina woman has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for fraud relating to $1.2 million in coronavirus relief funds.

Bridgett Dorsey, 39, of Blythewood, had pleaded guilty to tax fraud and fraud related to the CARES Act, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina said in a news release Thursday.

“The Defendant in this case not only stole from the federal government and engaged in tax fraud, but she prevented funds from reaching the hands of those who needed it the most. That this occurred during a pandemic makes her crimes particularly egregious,” U.S. Attorney Corey F. Ellis said.

Passed in March 2020, the CARES Act was designed to provide emergency financial aid to Americans suffering from the economic effects of the coronavirus.

Evidence showed that from April to August 2020, Dorsey fraudulently applied for and received $1,253,460 through seven economic injury loans and two Paycheck Protection Program loans, authorities said.

Each of the loan applications contained false information like overstated business revenues, inflated numbers of employees and addresses where businesses do not exist, officials said. Dorsey created false documentation or created businesses for the sole purpose of obtaining the loans.

In addition, IRS agents found that Dorsey, through one of her businesses, Virtual Financial Services, had prepared multiple tax returns on behalf of others and claimed deductions she knew were false. Multiple agencies seized more than $500,000 of stolen funds that were in bank accounts controlled by Dorsey, and another account with about $130,000 was frozen.

After Dorsey completes her sentence, she must serve three years of court-ordered supervision and pay more than $1 million in restitution for the CARES Act fraud and $13,865 in restitution to the IRS for the tax fraud.

The seized and frozen funds will be applied toward the restitution she owes, authorities said.