A Tennessee judge on Monday sentenced a woman to more than six years in federal prison and three more years of supervised release for allegedly taking fraudulent coronavirus relief money and using it for personal luxuries, including cosmetic surgery and a stay at Trump’s Sunny Isles Beach resort , Florida.

The woman identified by the US Department of Justice in a news release Leslie Bethea of ​​Surgoinsville, Tennessee, was indicted last June on federal charges of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements. Bethea pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement to a probation officer, the Justice Department said. In addition to the prison sentence, Bethea is ordered to pay about $21,000 in restitution.

Bethea, 30, is accused of providing false information and falsified financial statements to the U.S. government while applying for a Wage Protection Program loan, which she ultimately received even though she did not qualify. PPP, small business loan program backed by the U.S. Treasury Department, which was designed to support companies affected by the pandemic, awarded Bethea $20,805, according to the Justice Department — an amount based on her allegedly erroneous application.

Prosecutor’s office accused in criminal case that Bethea’s application for a PPP loan incorrectly stated that she earned $99,835 in 2019, included falsified tax documents to support that figure, and claimed that she had never been convicted of fraud in the previous five years. However, the complaint notes that Bethea was incarcerated in Tennessee during 2019 and entered a mandatory period of supervised release in October 2020, which required her to report monthly to her probation officer.

A general view of Trump Royale, Trump Palace and Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles, Florida on April 3, 2018.


The following April, financial documents allegedly show Bethea traveled to Sunny Isles Beach and booked a five-night stay at the Trump International Beach Resort that cost more than $2,800, according to the criminal complaint. During her trip to Florida, prosecutors also allege Bethea used about $5,500 in PPP funds to pay for an elective cosmetic procedure at a facility in the area.

Along with the alleged misuse of federal funds, Bethea is accused of violating the terms of her supervised release by making false statements to her probation officer.

“Between May 5, 2021, and May 20, 2021, in Greenville, Tennessee, in the Eastern District of Tennessee, Leslie Bethea willfully and knowingly submitted her monthly supervisory report for the month of April 2021 and at the same time made a materially false, fictitious and a fraudulent statement [sic]”, the complaint states.

It notes that Bethea signed a waiver after meeting with a probation officer in May 2021, warning that possible consequences for providing false statements include five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.


Previous articleDimitrius Stanley dies after battle with cancer
Next articleCoretta Scott King Center Black History Anchor • The Yellow Springs News