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$250K pandemic conspiracy results in five year prison sentence for Virginia woman

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A Hampton woman under court supervision for mail fraud used pandemic-assistance programs to fatten her bank account and spent the money on gambling, travel and clothing.

Lapondia Wallace, 53, was responsible for at least 22 fraudulent pandemic loan applications and five additional fraudulent applications for pandemic unemployment insurance benefits, according to court documents.

On Tuesday, Wallace was sentenced to five years in prison for identity theft and leading a conspiracy to defraud the government and financial institutions.

The fraud resulted in more than $250,000 in losses to the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Wallace withdrew substantial amounts of the fraud proceeds as U.S. currency before they could be seized.

Wallace has at least 25 prior convictions for fraud, forgery and related offenses, including a 2021 federal conviction for mail fraud.

In her prior federal case, Wallace and her co-conspirators repeatedly filed fraudulent insurance claims.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.