By CBS Baltimore Staff

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Baltimore woman faces federal charges for allegedly fraudulently obtaining more than $1.6 million in COVID-19 relief funds.

A federal indictment returned Wednesday charges 35-year-old Nichelle Henson with filing fraudulent applications as multiple businesses to obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Paycheck Protection Program loans.

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“It is reprehensible that fraudsters try to take advantage of this global pandemic to line their own pockets,” said the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek Barron.  “As charged in the indictment unsealed today, Nichelle Henson allegedly fraudulently obtained more than $1.6 million in federal funds at the expense of honest business owners who were actually experiencing financial distress as a result of COVID-19.”

According to the 18 count indictment, Henson incorporated six businesses in the State of Maryland and opened bank accounts for each business, but records indicate the businesses never had any employees. She allegedly made false statements in fraudulent applications such as the revenue made and the number of people employed.

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Under the EIDL grants Henson obtained $18,000 and more than $1.6 million through PPP funds.

Henson allegedly used the money for personal plastic surgery, home renovations, rent and utilities, and family expenses.

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If convicted, Henson faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in federal prison. Her first court appearance is Dec. 16.

CBS Baltimore Staff