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Ruby Franke’s ‘8 Passengers’ company got over $80,000 in pandemic loans

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Ruby Franke was arrested in August 2023 and charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse.

Ruby Franke is pictured on a talk show in 2018. The popular YouTuber was arrested in August 2023 and charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse.


Ruby Franke, the popular family blogger recently arrested for child abuse allegations, received over $80,000 in Payroll Protection Program loans during the pandemic.

Records from ProPublica’s PPP database show that Franke’s company, 8 Passengers Productions LLC, received two $41,810 loans — the first was approved in April 2020 and forgiven in May 2021. The second was approved in January 2021 and forgiven the following August.

In total, Franke’s company received $83,620 from the government’s loan program, according to documents listed on ProPublica’s database.

According to the database, 8 Passengers Productions had two employees and is in the “other motion picture and video industries.” Cache Valley Bank was the lender, and the loan covered payroll.

The company, based in Springville where the family lived, was registered in 2016 under Franke’s name, according to state records. However in August 2022, its license in Utah expired after it was not renewed, just one year after the second loan was forgiven.

“8 Passengers” was the name of Franke’s YouTube channel, which at one point boasted nearly 2.5 million followers. It’s a reference to Franke, her husband and the couple’s six children.

PPP loans could be forgiven if the company or nonprofit met certain criteria, like retaining employees during the pandemic. According to the Small Business Administration, nearly $790 billion in PPP loans was distributed from March 2020 to May 2021. About $757 billion of that was forgiven.

Franke and her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt were arrested on Aug. 30 after police say Franke’s 12-year-old child escaped from Hildebrandt’s home in Ivins, near St. George in southwestern Utah.

The child was emaciated, thirsty, had open wounds and duct tape on his extremities and asked a neighbor for help, according to audio of the 911 call. The neighbor told police it appeared the child had been detained.

Police then searched Hildebrandt’s home, where they found the child’s sibling. Both Hildebrandt and Franke were arrested and charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Both women are currently held in the Washington County Jail — on Monday, they will both appear in court, where their lawyers and Washington County attorneys will go over pretrial conditions. An attorney for Franke has requested an expedited detention hearing, which means they want to go over bail conditions as soon as possible.