An Ohio woman stole the identity of a dead baby and fraudulently obtained federal pandemic-relief loans, USA Today reports. She must spend six years in prison and pay more than $1.5 million in restitution. Ava Misseldine, 50, was sentenced Tuesday after she pled guilty to 16 counts of wire and passport fraud. The baby whose name she stole died in 1979. Misseldine applied for an Ohio ID, a Social Security card, driver’s license and passport under the name. A federal investigation into Misseldine began last year when she attempted to renew the fraudulent passport. Authorities arrested her last June in Utah. In 2021, Misseldine obtained driver’s licenses in both names after moving to Utah.
Misseldine was employed under the false identity of a flight attendant at JetSelect Aviation, an Ohio-based private jet charter company. In 2007, she used the stolen identity to obtain a student pilot certificate and U.S. passport. She also bought two homes, cumulatively worth nearly $1 million. As part of her plea, Misseldine agreed to forfeit her Utah home, a $647,500 house adjacent to Zion National Park, and profits from a Michigan home sale. Both homes were paid for by fraudulently obtained pandemic-related aid. Misseldine received about $1.5 million in federal loans using both her real and fake names in 2020 through the Paycheck Protection Program. She obtained more than a dozen such loans using fraudulent documents on behalf of businesses in Ohio that have not operated for years or never existed. A federal watchdog report in June estimated that more than $200 billion in COVID-19 relief loans and grants for small businesses may have been stolen by fraudsters.