Three people from Fayetteville lie about owning a business to obtain COVID-19 relief funds

Northwest Arkansas News

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Three people from Northwest Arkansas pleaded guilty to making a false statement on a loan application to obtain money through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Melvin Stout, 40, Tiffany Acuff, 36, Valarie Watson, 43, of Fayetteville, pleaded guilty to charges in connection with obtaining loans through the PPP, which is intended for businesses struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.  

According to the plea agreements in each case, Stout, Acuff, and Watson submitted PPP loan applications that falsely represented their ownership of small businesses, which they alleged were eligible for PPP funds.

Stout, was approved and received $9,400.00, Acuff, was approved and received $20,800.00, while Watson, applied for $20,800.00, but was declined.

Along with the applications, the defendants submitted falsified tax documents and business receipts. 

None of the defendants owned the businesses listed in the applications. 

Stout, Acuff, and Watson’s sentencing will be determined by the court at a later date, following the U.S. Probation Office’s completion of a presentence investigation. 

Based on their guilty pleas, the maximum penalties for each defendant include imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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