A dual New York/Florida resident admitted in federal court in Newark that he schemed to steal more than $6.8 million in COVID-19 payroll protection loans — $3 million of which the government said he flushed away in the stock market.

Gregory J. Blotnick applied to 13 lenders for 21 loans over a period of nearly a year, beginning in March 21, 2020, lying about the number of employees at nine companies whom he supposedly needed to pay, federal authorities said.

Blotnick, 34, dumped the money into a personal brokerage account instead, then poured nearly 45% of it into losing stock trades, Acting U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Rachael A. Honig and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a joint release.

The government ended up charging him with 33 counts of grand larceny and fraud. Rather than risk trial, Blotnick took a deal from the government, pleading guilty on Wednesday to single counts of wire fraud and money laundering.

Blotnick is among dozens of people charged by the government with trying to steal from the taxpayer-funded Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was designed to keep struggling small businesses afloat during the pandemic.

The program distributed an estimated $525 billion in forgivable loans to more than five million companies, saving an estimated 50 million jobs during one of the worst national crises in recent history.

That didn’t help more than 3,000 small…

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