MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A Montgomery woman has been arrested on federal charges that accuse her of committing fraud through the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Zsa Zsa Bouvier Couch, 52, made an initial court appearance Tuesday in connection to alleged federal small business loan fraud, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra J. Stewart with the Middle District of Alabama.
The federal indictment against Couch accuses her of submitting at least six fraudulent applications for loans under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP program, in which she sought more than $1.6 million in funds.
The Department of Justice says Couch ultimately received nearly $610,000 in PPP funds and alleges she used the money to buy luxury vehicles for herself and other family members.
Prosecutors contend that on each application, Couch falsely inflated the number of employees of her businesses, as well as average monthly payroll figures, and failed to disclose that she’d applied for multiple PPP loans for the same business or that she had common ownership in multiple businesses.
Prosecutors also contend that to support the false information on her applications, Couch submitted falsified tax documents.
As a result of her actions, prosecutors say Couch was able to qualify for larger PPP loan amounts than what she was eligible for.
Couch is now charged with multiple counts of bank fraud, making false statements to a federally insured bank, and money laundering.
If convicted, she faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.