IRS employees allegedly spent COVID money on Mercedes, Gucci & trips to Vegas

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Five current or former IRS employees in the Memphis area obtained thousands in COVID relief money and then spent those funds on things like a new car, designer clothing and a trip to Las Vegas, according to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ said the five employees obtained the money by submitting false applications under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs, seeking over $1 million in ill-gotten gains.

Those programs were set up by the government as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES. The CARES act was set up to help people with the financial impact of the COVID pandemic. But, according to the DOJ, these IRS employees used that money instead for cars, luxury goods and vacations.

Brian Saulsberry, 46, of Memphis, was employed by the IRS as a Program Evaluation and Risk Analyst in the Human Capital Office, the DOJ said. An indictment accuses Saulsberry of obtaining $171,400 in loans through the EIDL program. He allegedly spent a portion of that money on a Mercedes-Benz and put more of the funds in a personal investment account, the department of justice said. He has been charged with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering.

Courtney Quinshe Westmoreland, 38, of Cordova, was employed by the IRS as a Contact Representative in the Wage and Investment Service Centers Department. An indictment accuses Westmoreland of submitting multiple false claims through the PPP and EIDL programs on behalf of apparel businesses. She gained $11,500 in funds through those applications and then spent the money on manicures, massages and luxury clothing, the department of justice said. The DOJ also claims that, while she was employed by the IRS, Westmoreland submitted fraudulent unemployment applications in which she claimed she was not employed by the federal government, resulting in another $16,050 in ill-gotten gains. She is charged with three counts of wire fraud.

Fatina Hewitt, 35, of Olive Branch, Mississippi, was employed by the IRS as a Management and Program Assistant in Information Technology, the DOJ said. Hewitt allegedly submitted several false EIDL applications on behalf of fashion businesses, gaining $28,900, and spent the money on Gucci clothing and a trip to Las Vegas, the department of justice said. Hewitt pled guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Roderick DeMarco White II, 27, of Memphis, worked for the IRS as a Contact Representative in the Wage and Investment Service Centers Department. White allegedly submitted four fraudulent claims through the PPP and EIDL programs on behalf of an apparel business. The DOJ said he gained $66,666 through those claims and then spent the money on personal items such as a Gucci satchel. White pled guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Tina Humes, 56, of Memphis, worked for the IRS as a Lead Management and Program Assistant in the Human Capital Office, the DOJ said. Humes allegedly filed four false claims through the PPP and EIDL programs, resulting in $123,612 in loan funds. Humes then spent the money on jewelry and a trip to Las Vegas, according to the DOJ. The department of justice said she pled guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and each count of money laundering carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.