NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — An airman and his wife have pleaded guilty to submitting at least 40 fake loan applications totaling more than $5.1 million connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Malik Mitchum, 26, and Jenna Mitchum, 25, worked to obtain Small Business Administration-sponsored Economic Injury Disaster loans and Paycheck Protection Program loans, a news release said on Wednesday.

Prosecutors said the Mitchums falsely claimed that they were owners of at least five small businesses, when Malik Mitchum was actually a junior enlisted member of the Air Force and Jenna Mitchum was unemployed. Between March 2020 and May 2021, Malik and Jenna Mitchum submitted at least 19 fraudulent applications for pandemic-related loan benefits. They are also linked to more than 20 other fraudulent loan applications by the IP address used to submit the applications or wire transfers, the news release said.

Prosecutors said the Mitchums spent much of the money on luxury purchases, like a Rolex watch worth nearly $39,000.

Malik and Jenna Mitchum pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. They face up to 30 years in prison when they are sentenced on July 29, the news release said.

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