According to a criminal complaint, the siblings fraudulently obtained a $176,227 Paycheck Protection Program loan in early 2021 intended for their firm, Grassroots Resources.

The complaint states that Jesus Cardenas, 40, misrepresented the number of employees, misrepresented what type of business it was, and said the PPP funds would go towards employee retention and payroll, when the funds were actually used for personal expenses.

Andrea Cardenas, 31, allegedly submitted the business license and payroll calculation data for another company, marijuana dispensary Harbor Collective, and claimed it was information for Grassroots Resources, according to the complaint.

After receiving the loan, the complaint details several occasions in which the siblings allegedly used the loan funds to make credit card payments, payments to a Venmo account, and a $33,500 check to Andrea Cardenas’ Chula Vista City Council campaign account.

The siblings, who are slated to be arraigned next Thursday in downtown San Diego, are also charged with grand theft for allegedly taking funds from the Small Business Administration, and face additional charges of failing to file tax returns.

Jesus Cardenas, who served as chief of staff for San Diego City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn until his resignation earlier this year, faces up to four years and four months in prison. Andrea Cardenas faces up to five years and eight months if convicted of all charges.

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