Novi Man Federally Charged in COVID-19 Loan Scheme

Original Case Details

A 44-year-old man from Novi was recently federally charged for allegedly committing fraud to obtain over $3 million in federal pandemic loans. He is alleged to have developed a plot to cheat banks by submitting applications for loans that had false and fraudulent information. He was flagged for 19 different loan applications that were all allegedly tied to him in some way. The information submitted for these loans includes paperwork for multiple businesses that either did not exist or did not actually have the employees and wage information that the man allegedly submitted. One of the businesses listed was called “Bless My Grind LLC.” The loans, if valid, would have been distributed by the federal government under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that were guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The PPP allows businesses who qualify to receive loans at a 1% interest rate which can later be forgiven if the businesses spend the money within a specific time period with a minimum percentage going towards payroll expenses. Federal authorities have placed a special focus on investigating and prosecuting those who they suspect of fraud related to the pandemic fund and pandemic assistance. This is the latest in a wave of federal pandemic fraud cases that the federal government has pursued. It is expected that cases similar to this will become more commonplace as federal authorities continue to investigate pandemic assistance claims.

Federal Wire Fraud Charges and Related Penalties

The man faces a single count of federal wire fraud. Wire fraud criminalizes schemes to obtain money or property by any false means and the person makes any communications with any type of wire communication that crosses state lines. Wire fraud is a federal felony which normally carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. However, since the alleged wire fraud scheme involves a presidentially declared disaster or a federal financial institution, then the maximum possible penalties are raised to 30 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000. The federal government is alleging that the man committed the attempted this fraud on both fronts. He is alleged to have sought the pandemic based loans based on the CARES Act and done so by allegedly defrauding federally financed banking institutions. If the man is convicted of this offense, then he will also have to answer for his prior convictions at sentencing. The man has prior convictions for second-degree murder and domestic violence which will exponentially increase his potential sentencing guidelines. This can result in a significantly higher sentence when compared to someone who does not have a similar criminal history. Whatever the situation, the first opportunity for the man to resolve this case comes at his next court hearing, the pretrial.

What is Next Step in this Case?

The man will next appear in court for a pretrial hearing where his attorney and the federal prosecutor may look into plea negotiations. If a plea deal is made, then the man will have to appear in court to specifically admit to the charges in great detail before a federal judge. If the judge then accepts the man’s plea, then the case would be sent for a probation interview and report. The man would be required to return at a later date for sentencing, where the judge will determine the length of sentence that he or she deem to be appropriate given the man’s federal sentencing guidelines and the specific facts of the offense. If no plea deal is made, then the case would move forward towards a potential trial. During the pretrial phase defense attorneys may submit motions to the judge to examine or exclude specific pieces of evidence in the case based on case law or constitutional grounds. If a trial does happen in this case, the man will have the opportunity to have the trial before a jury or the judge alone. Any jury trial in the present case would likely not occur this year, and more likely to occur in 2021. If a plea deal is struck, the case would end much sooner.

Any Further Questions?

If you are facing federal investigation or indictment for allegations of fraud, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases in the federal courts within the state of Michigan. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.

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