2 former Chicago police officers charged in $2 million COVID-19 relief fraud

Torrey Price retired from the Chicago Police Department on July 15 — about two weeks before he was indicted for fraud. Aaron Price, the other former cop who’s charged, retired in 2017.

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Signs on Jan. 5, 2021 near the U.S. Capitol calling for a second round of the 2020 Paycheck Protection Program. The signs were part of a campaign by Goldman Sachs investment bank supporting small businesses.

Signs on Jan. 5, 2021 near the U.S. Capitol calling for a second round of the 2020 Paycheck Protection Program. The signs were part of a campaign by Goldman Sachs investment bank supporting small businesses.

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Two former Chicago police officers have been charged with bilking federal Paycheck Protection Program coronavirus pandemic relief programs out of more than $2 million.

Torrey Price and Aaron Price were indicted on federal fraud charges unsealed Aug. 8.

Torrey Price, 55, was a member of the Chicago Police Department for 23 years. He had worked in the Morgan Park district and retired July 15, according to law enforcement sources.

Aaron Price, 61, was a Chicago police officer who retired in 2017 after almost 18 years with the department, a source said.

According to the indictment, they and a third person, Ashia McGee, illegally obtained about $1.4 million in loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which was set up to help businesses struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

They submitted false IRS tax filings to lenders, saying they paid employees who actually didn’t exist, according to the indictment, which said the trio also tried unsuccessfully to get another $4.2 million in PPP loans.

Torrey Price was a cop at the time the loan applications were filed.

Aaron Price and McGee also illegally got $787,000 from the separate federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, according to the indictment.

Torrey Price filed for bankruptcy protection in 2020, court records show. In July, he told the bankruptcy court he retired due to “medical issues” and has only his pension income now.

Lawyers for the Prices and McGee didn’t return calls seeking comment.

The three are accused of defrauding the government by creating fictitious businesses including All Black Women Inc., Baby Mike TV, Celeb Entertainment Inc., Kid Toys and Products Inc., Pinned Hairstyles Inc., Urban Mix TV Show Inc., Behind the Scenes Inc. and the Best of Atlanta, Georgia Nightlife & Dining Inc. The indictment said the companies didn’t have employees or a payroll.

The indictment said the companies were incorporated between May 2020 and July 2020 and weren’t in operation prior to the pandemic — which was a requirement of the Paycheck Protection Program and the EIDL program.

The Prices and McGee submitted more than 100 applications for loans and advances under the two programs, according to the indictment.

If convicted, the indictment says they would be required to repay more than $2.2 million.

World Media Empire, one of the companies Aaron Price created, isn’t listed in the indictment, but the U.S. Small Business Administration, which ran the PPP program, noted possible irregularities about a PPP loan that the company got.

Price incorporated World Media Empire in Illinois in 2016, according to the Illinois secretary of state’s office, which lists McGee as president. World Media Empire offered “franchising, streaming and television platforms,” according to a company marketing message that also says, “We are building a world class streaming entertainment complex near Disney World in Orlando, Florida.”

The company said its “vision” was “to become the number one provider of streaming entertainment in the world” and described itself as “the largest acquirable media conglomerate in the world.”

World Media Empire got a PPP loan for $52,373 on May 7, 2020. The company said that two jobs were retained because of the loan, according to the SBA.

But an SBA website that provides information on PPP loans included a footnote about the World Media Empire loan, saying the loan seemed bigger than what just two workers should qualify for: “The size of [the] company’s PPP loan indicates that the number of employees on payroll during the eligibility calculation period, typically 2019, was higher than the 2 jobs reported as retained on the PPP application.”

“The 2 jobs reported are not enough to account for the loan range received,” the footnote said.

Another of Aaron Price’s companies, All Black Women Inc., got an $86,000 PPP loan. The company told the SBA the money would help retain five employees with a 2019 payroll of $412,800. But the indictment said the company didn’t have any employees or a payroll.

Aaron Price is listed as president of the now-defunct company, according to the Illinois secretary of state.

Cheating in the more than $800 billion Paycheck Protection Program and the EIDL program has been rampant across the country, authorities say. University of Texas researchers found Cook County was an epicenter of such fraud.

Over the past year, investigators have been trying to identify PPP scammers among government employees working for city of Chicago and Cook County agencies. Dozens of employees have been fired or resigned under suspicion of fraud.

Cook County and federal prosecutors have been reviewing those cases for possible criminal charges, sources say.

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