A federal judge sentenced Zsa Zsa Bouvier Couch, 55, from Montgomery to 45 months in prison this week following her convictions for offenses related to fraudulent loans she received through the Paycheck Protection Program, announced Acting United States Attorney Jonathan Ross on Friday.
The judge also ordered Couch to serve three years of supervised release following her prison term. Federal inmates are not eligible for parole.
A jury found Couch guilty in September on multiple counts of bank fraud, making false statements to a federally insured bank and money laundering. Ultimately, Couch received a total of $609,687.47 of Paycheck Protection Program funds from the federal government. Couch then distributed the money among herself, her husband and other family members. Some of the money she used to purchase luxury vehicles.
The Paycheck Protection Program was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a federal law enacted in March 2020 to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Ms. Couch, like far too many others, took for her own benefit money intended to support individuals and businesses suffering the devastating effects of the pandemic," Ross said. "My office is committed to identifying and prosecuting those who did or continue to do likewise."
The FBI, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General investigated this case.
"The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act was devised to assist people struggling through difficult financial times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Ms. Couch took advantage of the program to purchase lavish gifts for herself and family members," stated FBI special agent in charge Paul Brown over the Mobile, Alabama Division. "The 45 months imprisonment should send a clear message to anyone thinking of committing similar acts of fraud."
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