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Former Phoenix police officer sentenced in COVID fund fraud case

A former Phoenix police officer has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for fraudulently securing over a million dollars in federal COVID-19 funds.

Toni Richardson gave up her badge before she could be fired.

Federal authorities accused Richardson last year of lying on an application that led to $1.2 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program.

Court documents say Richardson knew she didn’t need the money to cover payroll for dozens of fake workers at a supposed charity for fellow veterans.

Prosecutors later said it was actually a social group. At least some of the money was spent on luxury goods, vehicles and properties.

Richardson’s lawyer wrote that a co-defendant duped Richardson into believing that signing a loan application would lead to helping veterans.   

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.