California PPP and EIDL Loan Fraud Lawyers – What You Need to Know
When COVID-19 hit in 2020, the government created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and expanded the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to get emergency money to struggling businesses fast. These loans were supposed to be a lifeline during an incredibly difficult time.
But now, federal prosecutors are aggressively going after folks accused of abusing these programs. Here in California, they’ve already charged over 100 people just in the LA area for allegedly scoring over $150 million in fake pandemic loans.
Getting accused of COVID relief fraud is scary. The feds don’t mess around. Some business owners are facing years behind bars and fines in the millions for allegedly lying on their applications.
If you’ve gotten a letter from the Small Business Administration (SBA) or been questioned by federal agents about your PPP or EIDL loans, it’s crucial to talk to a lawyer immediately. Don’t try to handle this yourself. These cases are super complex with harsh penalties if you’re convicted.
This article will give you the lowdown on how these cases work in California, talk about ways a good lawyer can defend you, and give tips on finding the right attorney. I’m not going to use a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo. I’ll explain things in simple terms, like I’m talking to a friend who’s worried they might get charged.
What is PPP and EIDL Fraud?
Let’s start with what these programs are all about:
- PPP loans were supposed to cover payroll and other expenses for 8 weeks. If you kept your employee headcount, the loan could be 100% forgiven.
- EIDLs provided low-interest loans up to $2 million for operating costs.
- EIDL advances up to $10k didn’t have to be paid back.
By mid-2021, the SBA had approved over $800 billion in PPP loans and $200 billion in EIDL loans and advances.
What Happens in a Federal Investigation?
- Showing up unannounced to question you
- Demanding paperwork and trying to search your home or business
- Sending subpoenas requesting all your financial records
- Having people secretly record you
- Threatening immediate arrest if you don’t cooperate
It’s terrifying dealing with this alone. Do not speak to federal agents without an attorney present. Be polite, but say you won’t answer questions without a lawyer. Then call one immediately.
An experienced lawyer can guide you on properly responding to investigators. They may also be able to negotiate with prosecutors before charges are even filed. This could potentially resolve the case without criminal penalties.
Fighting Fraud Charges in California Courts
If you do get charged, your lawyer’s defense strategy will depend on the specifics of your case. But some approaches they may use include:
- Arguing you had no intent to defraud – For example, showing you used the loan funds properly or made an honest mistake on the application.
- Attacking flaws in the investigation – Like if agents improperly obtained evidence or coerced a confession from you.
- Negotiating for reduced charges – Seeing if prosecutors will agree to drop or lower charges in exchange for a guilty plea. This can help avoid harsh sentences.
Your lawyer may also be able to get charges dismissed by convincing the judge there’s insufficient evidence to proceed. Or they may take your case all the way to trial if they think a jury could be swayed in your favor.
An experienced federal defense attorney will know how to strategically fight your case at every stage for the best possible outcome.
Tips for Finding the Right Fraud Lawyer
Picking the right lawyer is crucial when facing federal fraud charges. Here are some tips on what to look for:
- Find someone with extensive experience defending white collar and financial crime cases in California’s federal courts. They’ll understand how things work locally and have connections with judges and prosecutors.
- Make sure they have represented PPP and EIDL fraud cases before. You want someone intimately familiar with these programs and technical details that could help your defense.
- Ask about their track record getting charges dismissed pre-trial, keeping defendants out of prison, and negotiating favorable plea deals. This shows their ability to strategically fight the government.
- Be sure they have resources to handle a complex fraud case. These require thorough investigation and financial analysis which can get expensive. A top lawyer will invest what’s needed to build the strongest case for you.
- See if you feel comfortable with their communication style. You’ll be working closely together under stressful circumstances. Make sure it’s someone you trust and connect with.
Don’t just choose any lawyer without vetting their background. Finding the right fit for your case makes a huge difference. So take time to research and ask questions upfront.
Stay Calm and Take Action
Getting hit with federal fraud accusations is terrifying. But try to stay calm and focus on taking the right steps:
- Don’t panic – With an experienced lawyer’s help, you can get through this.
- Don’t talk to investigators without counsel – Anything you say can be used against you.
- Hire a lawyer ASAP – The earlier they can get involved the better.
- Follow their advice on responding to subpoenas and agents.
- Be patient – These cases take time to resolve. Trust your lawyer’s strategy.
PPP and EIDL fraud charges are serious. But an experienced attorney can protect your rights, build a strong defense, and get you the best possible outcome. Taking quick action gives you the best chance of putting this behind you.
I know it’s scary being under federal investigation or facing charges. But you’re not alone in this fight. With the right lawyer on your side, you can get through this difficult situation. Wishing you all the best.