A California couple was indicted Thursday in Hawaii on federal conspiracy charges for defrauding the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program of more than $1.3 million.

Christopher and Erin Mazzei, who were married in 2008, are accused of submitting false applications to several banks, including in Pennsylvania, Maine and Hawaii, to obtain forgivable PPP loans, which were designed by Congress to help small businesses stay afloat and keep their workers employed during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Christopher and Erin Mazzei are accused of bilking the PPP loan program of more than $1.3 million. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

According to a U.S. Justice Department indictment, the Mazzeis obtained $1,365,000 in PPP funds for their film production and catering companies. Instead of using the money for their businesses, they are accused of spending it on themselves.

Among their purchases are two SUVs and a down payment for a condo in Kapolei.

“Our entire community suffers when federal funds appropriated to provide critical pandemic relief are illegally diverted for personal gain,” U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors said in a press release. “We will pursue and prosecute those who defraud programs that provide a financial lifeline to struggling small businesses in Hawaii and across the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Read the indictment here:

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