People will never disappoint you as long as you expect people to be disappointing.
Yes, that’s a cynical way to start a news story, but what else is there to say about a Texas woman who allegedly received millions of dollars meant to protect small business owners from the economically devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and spent the money on luxury homes, cars and other goods?
KHOU 11 reports that 37-year-old LaDonna Wiggins of Houston went before a federal judge Tuesday after she was accused of receiving more than $3.6 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and using it to ball out and possibly bring back MTV Cribs and land herself a feature (I’m guessing) instead of using the money for the business-related expenses it was intended for.
Wiggins is charged with bank fraud, making a false statement to a bank and money laundering, and if she’s convicted she could face up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
According to ABC 13, Wiggins’ alleged lavish purchases at the expense of those who desperately needed that money include nearly $725,000 spent on homes in the Texas cities of Katy and Cypress and $78,000 for a 2020 Land Rover. She’s also accused of spending around $63,000 with Chanel, $46,000 with Neiman Marcus and $14,000 with Apple.
If Wiggins is found guilty, she wouldn’t be the first person to use the pandemic and the loan program for a personal come-up—not even the first person in Houston, in fact.
Last August, a Houston man was accused of spending around $1.6 million in PPP loan money on luxury cars, homes, a Rolex watch, other high-end items and to stunt at various strip clubs. In February of this year, two Fort Bend, Texas, landlords were indicted for allegedly defrauding the fund of nearly $200,000.
Hell, one could argue that the PPP has been an entire clusterfuck of fraudulence and unfairness since it was introduced as part of the CARES Act last March. Since then, The Root has reported that large corporations had been receiving PPP money while owners of small, struggling businesses didn’t get their fair share. We’ve also reported that hate groups received millions from the fund and that, despite Black and Latino businesses being disproportionately denied loans, some officials ended up facing lawsuits for trying to prioritize funds for minority communities mostly because white people got all whiny about it.
This isn’t to say that PPP loans haven’t done plenty of good for many struggling business owners, but greed and general unfairness have plagued efforts to provide pandemic relief to people in need. It’s sad and, unfortunately, it says a lot about the human condition.
The type of selfishness and apathy that would allow a person to steal millions that could have been put to good use by people fighting to stay afloat needs to be punished. It would also be nice if people could just be less disappointing.