Reality Show Cast Member Pleads Guilty to 15 Felonies, Admits Multiple Frauds
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Missouri:
ST. LOUIS – A reality show cast member and St. Louis, Missouri area radio personality on Wednesday pleaded guilty to 15 federal felonies and admitted committing tax fraud, bank fraud, insurance fraud and three separate pandemic fraud schemes.
Brittish “Cierrah” Williams, 33, pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey to five counts of misuse of a Social Security number, four counts of bank fraud, three counts of making false statements to the IRS and three counts of wire fraud.
“British Williams has admitted an unusually large number of frauds that victimized taxpayers, banks, credit card companies, individuals and programs that were intended to help struggling businesses and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Sayler A. Fleming.” This is a first step towards justice for those victims. We will also be seeking repayment of all of her ill-gotten gains.”
Williams admitted under-reporting her income on tax returns for 2017-2019 and falsely claiming a niece and nephew as dependents, thereby avoiding $29,366 in tax owed.
Williams fraudulently used Social Security numbers not assigned to her to open accounts with credit card companies and banks, which resulted in losses of $28,537 to those creditors when she failed to pay them back.
Williams also used those Social Security numbers to open bank accounts, then deposited thousands of dollars’ worth of checks taken from other peoples’ accounts without their knowledge and withdrew the money, causing another $23,850 in losses.
In addition, included in Williams’ guilty plea as relevant conduct are three pandemic frauds and one insurance fraud. Williams admitted submitting nine applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, intended to help struggling business, four applications for the Paycheck Protection Program, which was intended to save jobs, and one application to a rent relief program in California.
Williams’ disaster loan applications contained false information about business income and payroll, as well as her criminal history. She used the $144,400 in loans that resulted from two of the applications to fund her personal lifestyle, her plea agreement says.
Williams also received $52,647 in PPP loans.
On Jan. 3, 2022, Williams applied for the California COVID-19 Rent Relief program, falsely claiming that she was a California resident with a total annual household income of $50,000 and that she couldn’t pay her rent due to a “Reduction in hours of work” due to the pandemic, her plea agreement says. She had stopped paying rent in July of 2021. She received $27,801.
Williams’ $3,803 rent was more than reimbursed by a $4,000 payment from the network that produces “Basketball Wives LA,” and her work hours and pay were not reduced by the pandemic, Williams admitted in her plea.
Williams also submitted fake medical bills to at least one insurance company, resulting in $139,479.92 paid to her, co-conspirators or both.
Finally, Williams has not filed annual tax returns since her indictment in October of 2021, and listed herself as “exempt” on a form with her current employer resulting in no taxes being withheld from her $90,000 salary, her plea says.
The total known actual and intended losses from all the frauds and schemes, including the relevant conduct, is $446,082, her plea says.
Williams is scheduled to be sentenced August 23. The charges of misusing a Social Security number and making false statements each carry a potential penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The bank fraud charges carry penalties of up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine or both. The wire fraud charges carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration and the FBI. Special Assistant United States Attorney Diane Klocke is handling the case for the Eastern District of Missouri.