St. Louis County woman who pretended to be a landlord admits to COVID-19 rental assistance fraud: Officials

(Source: MGN)
(Source: MGN)(MGN)
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 4:16 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A St. Louis County woman pleaded guilty to pretending to be a landlord to get $267,000 in pandemic-related financial assistance Monday, according to the United States District Court.

Court documents show that Semaj Portis, 42, admitted to taking advantage of Emergency Rental Assistance and COVID-19 Emergency Solutions Grants. On Jan. 15, 2021, she registered a company called Forever Riding with the Missouri Secretary of State to file applications for rent assistance to the Missouri Housing Development Commission.

Statements showed that she filed a total of 52 applications on Oct. 18, 2021. According to Portis’ plea agreement, she listed herself as the landlord and submitted fraudulent rental leases.

In court, she said that she worked as a nurse for 12 years and as a medical dispatcher. Portis used the money she received for vacations, purchasing real estate, and other personal items.

Wire fraud carries a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years, a fine of $250,000, or both. Portis’s sentencing is scheduled for Aug 26. She will also be ordered to repay the money.