Former Georgia mayoral candidate used $323G PPP loan on swimming pool, furniture, DOJ says
Olivia Ware is now facing numerous charges
MAR 17, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAR 18, 2021
A former Georgia mayoral candidate in charge of a nonprofit claiming to assist low-income families spent $323,000 in loans she received from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on an in-ground pool for her home, furniture and to pay down her mortgage, amongst other personal expenses, the Justice Department alleges.
Olivia Ware, CEO of Let’s Talk About the Family, Inc., has now been arraigned on federal charges of bank fraud and money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Georgia. Prosecutors say Ware obtained the PPP loan after allegedly submitting a falsified application to a bank that included “fictitious tax records purporting to show the company had 54 employees that were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary.”
In 2017, Ware unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Conyers, a city of about 15,000 outside of Atlanta.
“It has been said that bad times bring out the best in people, this case is not an example of that,” Special Agent in Charge Katrina Berger, who heads Homeland Security Investigations operations in Georgia and Alabama, said in a statement. “Every time a fraudster steals money from the PPP fund another legitimate business is unable to get those funds to help real employees with real families.”
Let’s Talk About the Family, on its website, describes itself as a “community based non-profit organization that assists low-income families with information that will enable them to help themselves and broaden their scope to identify resources from local and state agencies.”
In a bio of Ware, a 61-year-old from Oxford, it says that “she has had a profound impact on the lives of families within Georgia communities for many years.
“Dr. Ware’s drive and persistence to aid families through grant writing intervention and prevention programs has astounded local, state and nationwide leaders,” it added.
But the Attorney’s Office says according to state records, Let’s Talk About the Family didn’t pay any wages to employees last year despite Ware receiving the sizeable loan intended to help small businesses that are struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, Ware “allegedly spent the PPP loan for her own benefit, including to buy an in-ground swimming pool, furniture, and other home improvement items, and to pay down the principal on her mortgage,” the Office said.
“Authorities continue to examine Paycheck Protection Program loans for acts of fraud, as the charges against Ware demonstrate,” added Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine. “Those who would consider stealing from the Paycheck Protection Program should think twice.”
Let’s Talk About the Family did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News.
Ware fell short in her attempt at a political career. Her campaign for mayor in 2017, resulted in her netting only 198 of the 1,052 votes cast.
“Please vote for Olivia Ware for Mayor of Conyers,” read a post on a Facebook page titled “Olivia Ware For Mayor”, next to an image that featured Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and Georgia-born rapper 2Chainz. Ware was not present in the photograph.
Last year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution raised suspicions about Ware’s work, reporting that she “touts her nonprofit as a major homeless outreach in the suburbs east of Atlanta that she had operated quietly for years.”
“Trouble is, there’s little evidence that Let’s Talk About the Family, based in her Newton County home, runs such programs of the scale Ware describes, and it’s unclear how many people she employs,” the newspaper said in a September article. “Shelter directors and area law enforcement officials said they’ve never heard of her operation.”
Former mayoral candidate charged with stealing from the Paycheck Protection Program
MAR 16, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: MAR 18, 2021
ATLANTA – Olivia Ware, a former candidate for Mayor of the City of Conyers, has been arraigned on federal charges of bank fraud and money laundering stemming from a scheme to use a company she started to steal over $323,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
“Authorities continue to examine Paycheck Protection Program loans for acts of fraud, as the charges against Ware demonstrate,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “Those who would consider stealing from the Paycheck Protection Program should think twice.”
“It has been said that bad times bring out the best in people, this case is not an example of that. Ware tried to defraud the government out of money meant to help small businesses affected by the pandemic continue operations and take care of their employees. Instead of helping others through a difficult time as the money was intended, she used the money for personal gain,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Every time a fraudster steals money from the PPP fund another legitimate business is unable to get those funds to help real employees with real families. HSI’s OPERATION STOLEN PROMISE protects the country from the threat of COVID-19-related fraud and criminal activity.”
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges, and other information presented in court: The PPP is an emergency funding program created to assist small business owners and their employees during the coronavirus pandemic. PPP loans are fully guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
In 2020, Olivia Ware was the CEO of a Georgia company called Let’s Talk About the Family, Inc., but according to state records, it did not pay wages to any employees. Yet, Ware allegedly submitted a false application to a bank for a PPP loan for the company that included fictitious tax records purporting to show the company had 54 employees that were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary.
As a result of this materially false information, the bank loaned over $323,000 in PPP funds to Ware’s company. Ware then allegedly spent the PPP loan for her own benefit, including to buy an in-ground swimming pool, furniture, and other home improvement items, and to pay down the principal on her mortgage.
Ware, 61, of Oxford, Georgia, faces charges of bank fraud and money laundering. She was arraigned on a criminal information on March 16, 2021.
Members of the public are reminded that the criminal information only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bernita B. Malloy and Trevor C. Wilmot are prosecuting the case.