HONOLULU (KHON2) — A California couple was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday after a scheme to defraud the government of loan funds intended for COVID-19 related relief.

Officials said that husband and wife, Christopher and Erin Mazzei of Arroyo Grande, submitted applications for Paycheck Protection Program funds to three financial institutions — including one in Hawaii — on behalf of three purported businesses.

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According to the United States Department of Justice, the Mazzeis allegedly supported their claims for PPP loan funds to banks by creating false Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax returns and payroll records.

PPP was created by the U.S. to offer forgivable loans to small businesses affected by COVID-19 disruptions.

Court documents stated the Mazzeis received $1,365,000 as a result of false and fraudulent applications they made to receive the loan funds. They then used the money for personal purposes like purchasing multiple sport utility vehicles and a home in Kapolei.

As the country continues to battle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, these indictments are an unfortunate reminder that there are always those who will stoop low to unjustly enrich themselves, even at the cost of those suffering
around them.”

Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin, IRS Criminal Investigation, Seattle Field Office.

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The couple was indicted and charged with wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.