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Wings restaurant was fraudulently funded with COVID loan money in Missouri, feds say

A man and woman lied to get $448,536 in Paycheck Protection Program loans during the COVID-19 pandemic, then used the money to build a Missouri Wings restaurant and renovate an apartment building, according to court documents.

Now the couple have been indicted in federal court.

Pamela S. Hubbard, of St. Louis, and Irvin Coats, of Florissant, were each indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to a Feb. 21 news release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri . Both pleaded not guilty.

Defense attorneys representing Hubbard, 45, and Coats, 43, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News on Feb. 22.

Federal authorities said Hubbard and Coats teamed up during the early stages of the pandemic to fraudulently obtain PPP loans. The loans were supported by the US Small Business Administration to help small businesses retain their employees during the pandemic.

Their plan was to use the funds to open The Wing Strip, a Florissant-based restaurant, prosecutors said.

To get the money, Coats first filed a PPP loan application in May 2020, asking for $53,125 for Abounding Protection LLC, a company he founded in 2007, authorities said.

“Coats falsely claimed the company had 12 employees and an average monthly payroll of $21,250 when there were no employees, no wages, no business operations or no revenue,” according to the release. He said he would use the money for payroll, leasing and utilities.

Then, in June 2020, Hubbard applied for a PPP loan of $371,245 for Star Shyne LLC, a cleaning business he had founded the year before, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said she overestimated the number of employees she had.

Most recently, in March 2021, Coats applied for and received a $24,166 PPP loan for Abounding Protection, officials said.

With a total of $448,536, prosecutors said the couple used the money to pay contractors working on The Wing Strip restaurant and to renovate an apartment building in Florissant.

The Wing Strip was first registered with the Missouri Secretary of State in November 2019, months before the first PPP loan application was filed, according to court documents. Hubbard and his son were listed as organizers.

Federal authorities are seeking the forfeiture of all assets connected to the fraud, according to the release. The couple also face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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