Former Cincinnati mayoral candidate charged in COVID-19 fraud scheme, court docs show

Former Cincinnati mayoral candidate charged in COVID-19 fraud scheme, court docs show
Kelli Prather (Source: Provided)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A former Cincinnati mayoral candidate could face up to 30 years in prison after being charged in a federal COVID-19 fraud scheme, the acting U.S. attorney for the southern district of Ohio said.

Kelli Prather, 48, is accused of applying for six Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for six businesses through the CARES Act COVID-19 relief fund.

The PPP is a loan designed to provide an incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

Prather was seeking more than $600,000 in fraud relief but received around $19,800 the criminal complaint says.

The bank found errors in Prather’s loan applications, according to the complaint, and identified six different pending applications.

A review of her bank accounts showed disbursement of PPP loan funds were inconsistent with legitimate business-related activity, the complaint read.

“Instead, review of Prather’s banking activity indicated money was either being pocketed by Prather or funding expenses that appear to be personal in nature such as salon and restaurant visits,” the court documents state.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Prather is facing the following charges:

  • Bank fraud
  • Committing fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits
  • Wire fraud
  • Making false statements
  • Making false statements in connection to credit or loan applications
  • False representation of a social security number

Prather, a Democrat, previously filed to run for Cincinnati mayor but failed to get the 500 valid signatures needed to be on the May 4 primary ballot, according to our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Prather submitted three petitions each with 900 to 1,000 signatures. Each time the board of elections staff found less than 500 signatures, the Enquirer reported on March 12.

In addition to Prather, the U.S. attorney’s office says three other people, Toni Wright of Cincinnati, Melissa McGhee of Cincinnati, and Jon Alan Bader of Dayton, were charged with defrauding COVID-19 pandemic relief funding programs.

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