Buffalo Woman, Keonna Davis Pleads Guilty To Defrauding Hurricane Victims
BUFFALO, N.Y (STL.News) U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Keonna Davis, 33, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan P. Cantil, who is handling the case, stated that between September and December 2017, the defendant worked as a disaster recovery specialist for the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA provides low-interest disaster relief loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from federally declared disasters. In her role as a disaster recovery specialist, Davis spoke directly with loan applicants who, in the course of applying for a disaster relief loan, provided the defendant with their name, social security number, date of birth, and other personal identifying information. Davis also had access to an SBA database of loan applications that contained the personal identifying information of disaster relief loan applicants.
On August 28, 2017, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a victim, identified as G.O., applied for a disaster relief loan from the SBA. On January 21, 2018, the defendant used G.O.’s personal identifying information to apply for a $4,900 loan from MyPetFunding, LLC to lease a French bulldog. Davis scanned a copy of a driver’s license containing victim G.O.’s information, replacing G.O.’s picture with her own picture. The defendant executed similar schemes against more than 10 victims who applied for disaster relief loans from the SBA. The total loss was $285,430.
The plea is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston Division.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 19, 2021, at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Arcara.