Deputy Arlington Sheriff Charged With COVID-19 Wire Fraud Program
ARLINGTON, VA – India Middleton, deputy sheriff in the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, has been charged in Georgia by the United States Postal Inspection Service with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Middleton was one of 10 defendants indicted under a multi-state scheme for submitting fraudulent loan applications for non-existent businesses under the Economic Disaster Lending Program (EIDL) and Protection Program paychecks (PPP), according to a US Department of Judicial Release.
“The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses across the country has been devastating,” Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine said in the statement. “The defendants allegedly abused both programs by submitting fraudulent claims and obtaining thousands of dollars that should have been spent supporting struggling businesses. We will work tirelessly to protect the integrity of EIDL and PPP and to help small businesses stay afloat. “
The scheme came to light as part of a narcotics investigation. On August 11, 2020, USPIS and Drug Enforcement Administration agents executed a search warrant at Alicia Quarterman’s home in Atlanta, according to court documents. In addition to seizing a package containing methamphetamine hidden in dog food containers, officers found cell phones and a ledger detailing the personal and banking information of several people. After obtaining search warrants, officers found hundreds of text messages and photos related to fraudulent EIDL and PPP business loans.
Police said Quarterman and Katrina Lawson, a former deputy sheriff in Fulton County, Ga., Have familiarized themselves with the filing requirements for EIDL and PPP. They enlisted friends and family members who did not own a business to file claims, police said. In addition to applying for the business loans, police said they created false IRS documents to back them up.
Between July 1 and August 11, 2020, Quarterman completed approximately 58 fraudulent EIDL applications, seeking $ 490,000 in loan, according to court documents. Lawson filed 11 fraudulent PPP loan applications in the same time frame, seeking at least $ 224,000.
The defendants have been charged with various counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.
“The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office is committed to holding itself accountable to the highest professional standards to ensure the public trust,” Sheriff Beth Arthur said in the statement. “Once we became aware of the allegations, we cooperated with the United States Postal Inspection Service and upon our arrest, we immediately opened an internal administrative investigation. We take all allegations of staff misconduct seriously and can assure the public that a full internal investigation will be conducted. “
Middleton, who is currently assigned to judicial duties, has been a deputy in the sheriff’s office since 2015. She is undergoing an internal administrative review and has been placed on administrative leave.