Crime

Federal Charges Brought Against St. Croix Business Owners Over PPP Loan Misuse

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The United States Attorney’s Office, under the leadership of Delia L. Smith, has unveiled charges against St. Croix’s own Kimberly McCollum and Morris Anselmi. The duo, helming Island Services Group, faces allegations regarding the misappropriation of $500,000 in federal funds designated for Coronavirus relief efforts. Following her initial appearance in court, presided over by U.S. Magistrate Judge Emile Henderson, III, McCollum has been granted release on a $500,000 bond.

These charges are linked to the duo’s dealings with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a crucial component of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted by Congress in March 2020. The CARES Act was designed to deliver urgent financial assistance to American citizens and businesses grappling with the economic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the PPP offering forgivable loans to small businesses to support job retention and other essential expenses.

The prosecution claims that in the years 2020 and 2021, McCollum and Anselmi engaged in a calculated fraud, acquiring a PPP loan of $989,400 under deceitful pretenses for their St. Croix venture. It is further alleged that McCollum diverted half a million dollars into her personal account, channeling these funds towards settling the debts of another business she owned and purchasing a $200,000 annuity.

Moreover, the pair is accused of applying for loan forgiveness with the Small Business Administration (SBA), dishonestly claiming the loan was expended for its legitimate purposes, while allegedly a portion was utilized for personal benefits.

Adding to the allegations, Anselmi is implicated in acquiring a condo worth about $250,000, a property transferred from McCollum, which is purported to be part of the fraudulent scheme. Anselmi awaits his initial court appearance, the date of which remains to be scheduled.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is spearheading the inquiry into these serious allegations, with Assistant United States Attorney Evan Rikhye at the helm of the prosecution effort.

Delia L. Smith, the United States Attorney, underscores that an indictment is merely a formal charge and not indicative of guilt. The accused individuals retain the presumption of innocence until potentially proven guilty in a court of law through a process that respects the fundamental principles of justice and the rule of law.

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