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Seattle Woman Responsible For $6.8M Pandemic Fraud Scheme Sentenced To 5 Years In Prison

Paradise Williams will serve five years for scamming the federal government.

A Seattle woman who obtained millions from the government through several federally funded pandemic assistance programs has been sentenced to five years in prison.

The United States Attorney’s Office of Western District Washington announced that 29-year-old Paradise Williams, who ran a ring that obtained more than $6.8 million in pandemic benefits fraudulently, was given five years in prison for wire fraud and money laundering. Officials stated that she funded a lifestyle that afforded her luxury cars, lavish trips, cosmetic surgery, jewelry, and designer goods through her ill-gotten gains.

“Paradise Williams was relentless in her efforts to steal pandemic benefits throughout the entire duration of our national emergency, and it is unconscionable that she funded a life of luxury by stealing millions in taxpayer funds that should have prevented King County residents from being evicted in the winter,” said U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman in a written statement. “Combatting pandemic fraud is a priority for our district, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold individuals accountable for exploiting a national crisis.”

From June 2020 to February 2022, Williams was able to submit more than 125 fraudulent applications for the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds administered by King County, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act unemployment benefits. She included over 50 associates, including her five codefendants, to siphon over $3.3 million. They were able to do so by posing as fake tenants, landlords, and small business owners seeking financial help due to the coronavirus pandemic. While applying for assistance, Williams and the other people involved in the scheme created falsified bank statements, tenant ledgers, and landlord attestations.

She received more than $2 million in financial assistance, allowing her to spend frivolously on luxurious items and trips.

At her sentencing, U.S. District Judge John H. Chun said, “These were serious and terrible crimes. [Williams and her codefendants] stole from programs designed to help members of their community during the pandemic.”

Her codefendants, D’Arius Jackson, Tia Robinson, Rayvon Peterson, and David Martinez, had already pleaded guilty to the charges. Jackson was sentenced to three years in prison, and Robinson to 18 months. The other two defendants will have their sentencing this week and next. Martinez is scheduled for sentencing on March 11, and Peterson is scheduled for sentencing on March 18.

Under the arrangement agreed to by Williams, she will pay restitution of $2,791,241 to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and $512,730 to the U.S. Small Business Administration. She will also forfeit $2,023,104 and a Lexus sedan and a Range Rover SUV that she bought with illegal funds.