Four people, including two from Holly Hill, are guilty for their roles in a scheme to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program loans, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Lori Hammond, 53, of Summerville; Catherine “Cassie” Needham, 36, of Manning; Jontrell Wright, 35, of Holly Hill, and Christopher Conrad, 39, of Holly Hill, have all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.

The Paycheck Protection Program was created as part of the CARES Act to provide small businesses with the resources they need to maintain their payroll, hire back employees and cover overhead.

Evidence showed that from June 2020 through January 2021, Lori Hammond caused multiple materially fraudulent PPP loan applications to be submitted to federally insured financial institutions on behalf of herself and her co-conspirators.

In these loan applications, Hammond used the identity of a deceased individual, misrepresented the number of employees and payroll expenses of the entities seeking the loans, attached fraudulent tax documents, and made numerous other false and misleading statements.

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As part of the conspiracy, Hammond assisted Needham, Conrad, and Wright by filling out the loan application documents with materially false and fraudulent information and then submitting them to an individual in California.

The individual in California would in turn submit the fraudulent loan applications to financial institutions in exchange for a fee, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Based on the false representations and submissions in the applications, the approved PPP lenders funded the PPP loans.

After the funds were deposited into the respective accounts, Hammond, Wright, Needham and Conrad used the funds for non-qualifying, non-business-related purposes, including homes, property, cars and other personal purchases, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

In total, the members of the conspiracy fraudulently obtained $4.7 million in PPP loan funds.

The defendants all face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. They also face a fine of up to $250,000, restitution and three years of supervision to follow the term of imprisonment.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Limehouse is prosecuting the case.

U.S. District Judge David C. Norton accepted the guilty plea and will sentence the defendants after receiving and reviewing a sentencing report prepared by the United States Probation Office.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. For more information, visit

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at:

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