The Department of Justice seal.

This week marks one year since David Adler Staveley faked his suicide before going on the run from the law for almost two months after he and a co-conspirator were the first in the nation to be charged with fraud in the Paycheck Protection Program in May 2020.

Last week, Staveley pleaded guilty in a federal court in Rhode Island to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and failure to appear in court.

Also last week, federal prosecutors in California and Texas secured convictions in PPP fraud cases where defendants tried to bilk taxpayers out of millions in forgivable loans meant to save jobs and keep businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. The major convictions within a span of two days underscore how the Justice Department is cracking down on fraud cases from COVID-19 relief.

In May alone, federal prosecutors brought charges in two separate cases in New Jersey, one in Maine, a separate California case, one in Mississippi and one in Connecticut. In these cases, defendants are still presumed innocent. 

Also in early May, an Oklahoma man pleaded guilty to false statements to a financial institution in attempting to get a $300,000 PPP loan.

The Justice Department has charged more than 120 defendants with fraud related to PPP loans. Some cases are substantial. For example, in March, a Texas man pleaded guilty to a scheme applying for 15 different PPP loans using 11 different companies to get $24.8…

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