Mother and daughter from Mount Vernon sentenced in pandemic-relief fraud scheme

Andrea and Alicia Ayers previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements for submitting 315 fake grant applications to the U.S. Small Business Association's Economic Injury Disaster Loans in the summer of 2020.

Jonathan Gordon

Apr 26, 2024, 10:04 PM

Updated 28 days ago

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A mother and daughter from Mount Vernon will spend time in federal prison for running a $1.7 million fraud scheme.
Andrea and Alicia Ayers previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements for submitting 315 fake grant applications to the U.S. Small Business Association's Economic Injury Disaster Loans in the summer of 2020.
The U.S. government implemented that program to help small businesses around the country stay afloat during the early parts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These defendants stole from a taxpayer-funded program intended to help small businesses that were in desperate need of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.
The pair admitted to recruiting their friends and family to act as fake businesses and would submit applications for $10,000 each on their behalf. The two would take a kickback from each grant awarded.
Prosecutors said the pair made off with more than $500,000 over several weeks.
Prosecutors described Alicia as the head of the scheme who brought the idea to her mother. They said she had "extensive involvement" in how it operated.
Her attorney asked for leniency because she's a single mother of two with no criminal history. The judge eventually sentenced her to two years in federal prison followed by six months of house arrest.
Prosecutors said Andrea should have known better. They said she was heavily involved in recruiting and even went as far as to offer to help friends and family create fake business documents once banks began freezing their accounts.
Her attorney also asked for a sentence without prison time because of her previous time at the Mount Vernon Police Department and her role as a caretaker for her mother and two grandchildren.
The judge sentenced her to 3 ½ years in federal prison.
Alicia told the court, "I made a lot of bad decisions in my life but undoubtedly the grossest decision was the one that led me here today."
Andrea said, "I should have known better for my daughter and I should have known better for my family."
Judge Nelson Roman called this a difficult sentencing but felt the amount defrauded from the government was too large to ignore.
"This was a serious crime with a substantial amount of money stolen," he said.
Both Ayers will surrender to prison on August 2, 2024.


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