Brookfield resident Maja Nikolic, 34, was among seven people charged with wire fraud and money laundering for her part in fraudulently obtaining at least $16 million in small business loans and grants under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, John R. Lausch Jr. announced Oct. 20.

Also charged were Marko Nikolic, 34, of LaGrange; Nebojsa Simeunovic, 37, of Lyons; Mijajlo Stanisic, 33, of Willowbrook; Branko Aleksic, 33, of Chicago; Milica Sumakovic, 31, of Chicago and Dorde Todorovic, 32, of Chicago.

The 33-count indictment alleges that Maja Nikolic and the others submitted more than 300 applications for loans and cash advances the federal government was providing through its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which was part of the CARES legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to businesses with 500 or fewer employees.

According to the indictment, the defendants sought those funds purporting to be officers of corporations that had once been active, but which were dissolved at the time of application.

The applications also allegedly included fraudulent estimates of revenues and costs of goods sold during the 12 months prior to Jan. 20, 2020, submitting false federal corporate income tax documents. They also allegedly listed the number of people those companies purportedly employed, when they actually employed no one.

The indictment also alleges that Maja Nikolic and the other defendants fraudulently represented in those applications that they were U.S. citizens, when they were actually Serbian nationals except for Stanisic and Aleksic, who are Montenegrin nationals.

Nikolic and the other defendants also allegedly opened bank accounts in the names of the phony companies and directed into them millions of dollars in fraudulently obtained federal funds, which they used for personal benefit.

The indictment names Maja Nikolic in 13 of the 33 counts, alleging Nikolic fraudulently directed about $1.7 million of federal funds into bank accounts in the United States.

Federal prosecutors also allege Nikolic engaged in money laundering by wiring about $710,000 from a Citibank account to a bank outside the U.S. on July 28, 2020, a move “designed in whole or in part to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership and control of the proceeds.”

Each wire fraud and money laundering charge is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.