SURGOINSVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – A Surgoinsville woman was sentenced to 78 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Leslie Bethea, 30, was indicted in June 2022 on multiple charges related to wire fraud and money laundering. She later agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement to her U.S. probation officer.
After her prison sentence is complete, Bethea will be on supervised release, and she has also been ordered to pay $20,805 in restitution.
The DOJ stated that in March 2021, Bethea received a fraudulent Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan, totaling the same amount she has been ordered to repay. On her application for the loan, Bethea claimed she had made just shy of $100,000 in 2019.
In 2019, Bethea was reportedly serving a prison sentence for previous wire fraud. The DOJ reports she was not released until Oct. 8, 2020.
In addition to lying about her income on the application, the DOJ also reports Bethea falsely said she had not been convicted of any fraud offenses within five years of the application. She also allegedly attached fake tax documents to support her claim.
In April 2021, Bethea received her $20,805 PPP loan. In the release, the DOJ described the following ways in which she spent the money:
“Bethea used a portion of the fraudulent loan proceeds to pay for a five-day junket at a resort in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. She also used some of the fraudulent loan proceeds to pay for an elective cosmetic surgical procedure in Florida while there.”United States Department of Justice
According to the DOJ, Bethea lied when she returned to Tennessee by submitting a report to her probation officer for the month of April. Bethea also reportedly claimed in that report to have only received $200 for that month in addition to saying she had not left Tennessee.