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Houston woman charged with fraud, money laundering after receiving $3.6 million from CARES Act

Federal prosecutors say LaDonna Wiggins used the money to buy two homes, multiple vehicles and luxury goods -- rather than for legitimate business purposes.
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Stack of 100 dollar bills with illustrative coronavirus stimulus payment check to show the virus stimulus payment to Americans

HOUSTON — A Houston woman will face a federal judge Tuesday afternoon on charges she committed fraud to get millions of dollars from the CARES Act. 

LaDonna Wiggins, 37, has been charged with  bank fraud, making a false statement to a bank and money laundering.  

The U.S. Attorneys Office says Wiggins submitted two Paycheck Protection Program loan applications and received $3.6 million.

They say she spent the money on two homes, multiple vehicles and luxury items -- rather than for legitimate business purposes. 

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If convicted, Wiggins would face up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. 

The CARES Act was enacted last March to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It included PPP loans for small businesses that didn't have to be repaid.

Businesses must use PPP loan for certain permissible expenses, such as payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities.

The Secret Service conducted the investigation into the Wiggins case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Zahra Jivani Fenelon is prosecuting the case.

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