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Woman pleads guilty Friday to fraud for using $10,000 in COVID relief money for personal use

Posted at 6:20 PM, Nov 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-18 19:23:18-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A woman pleaded guilty Friday in the Kansas City, Missouri, federal courthouse to wire fraud for lying about owning a shoe business to get $10,000 in COVID relief money.

Nicole R. Cortez, 41, of KCMO, let a co-conspirator use her personal identification information to submit an application for CARES Act money, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in KCMO.

Part of the CARES Act allowed the Small Business Administration to provide loans to businesses battered by the COVID pandemic.

The loan application filed listed Cortez as the owner of a business, Cortez Shoez Inc., that did not exist, according to the news release.

She signed a loan authorization agreement that the money would be used "solely as working capital to alleviate economic injury caused by disaster occurring in the month of January 31, 2020, and continuing thereafter."

Instead, the money was used for car payments, restaurant meals and cash withdrawals, the release states.

Cortez has a sentencing hearing set for April 20, 2023.