Tech exec sentenced to 2 years for $1.8 million COVID fraud

YAKIMA, Wash. — A 48-year-old Yakima woman, Karla Padilla, pleaded guilty to fraudulently receiving more than $59,000 in COVID-19 relief funds, according to a press release from US Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, Vanessa R. Waldref. The conviction follows the work of an Eastern Washington COVID-19 Strike Force, which started investigating fraud against COVID-19 relief programs in February 2022. 

In a written plea agreement, Padilla admitted to fraudulently receiving the money from both the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, both of which offered funding for small businesses to stay open amid the pandemic. Padilla used fake information about Queen B Collectibles, her reported collectible car business, to secure the funding. She said in the agreement that the business had not been active, so it was not eligible for any funding. 

Her agreement also admits she tried to receive around $200,000 more in funding, but those applications were not approved.

“I commend the stellar investigative work on these cases performed by the Strike Force and especially in this case by [the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General] and [the U.S. Department of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration,” said Waldref. “We will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners to vigorously prosecute those who abuse and misuse COVID-19 relief funding, and to strengthen our communities by protecting our small and local businesses.” 

Padilla’s sentencing is set for December 20 in Yakima.