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Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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Last Updated on: 19th October 2023, 12:19 pm
The COVID-19 pandemic led to unprecedented government assistance for businesses and individuals, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). While these programs provided a lifeline for many during an incredibly challenging time, some took advantage and committed fraud. In Las Vegas and across Nevada, PPP and EIDL loan fraud is being aggressively prosecuted. If you or your business is being investigated or charged, it’s critical to consult with an experienced federal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Here’s an overview of these loan programs, common fraudulent activities, penalties, and defenses:
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was launched in April 2020 as part of the CARES Act. It authorized up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to maintain payroll during COVID-19 closures and shutdowns. Congress later added another $320 billion to the program. PPP loans carried a 1% interest rate and 2-5 year terms. The key feature was forgiveness of up to the full loan amount if certain conditions were met, effectively converting loans to grants.
To have loans forgiven, PPP borrowers had to spend at least 60% on payroll costs and the remainder on other eligible expenses like rent and utilities during the 8-24 week covered period. Forgiveness amounts were reduced if full-time employee headcount declined or if salaries decreased by more than 25%. Any unforgiven amounts converted to low interest (1%) loans repayable over 2-5 years.
The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides low interest loans to businesses suffering substantial economic injury from declared disasters. EIDLs have repayment terms up to 30 years and provide vital economic support to help overcome lost revenue. The CARES Act expanded the EIDL program to provide loans specifically for COVID-19 related losses. It authorized $10 billion in emergency EIDL grants of up to $10,000 within 3 days of applying to cover immediate operating expenses. The CARES Act also waived certain rules during the covered period from January 31, 2020 to December 31, 2021, including personal guarantees on loans below $200,000 and requirement to be in business for 1 year before the disaster.
With billions in government aid flowing rapidly to individuals and businesses, opportunities arose for abuse. Some common fraudulent activities involving PPP and EIDL loans include:
PPP and EIDL loan fraud can lead to severe criminal and civil penalties. At the federal level, common charges include:
Defendants often face multiple charges that can lead to lengthy prison sentences. The government pursues forfeiture of any fraudulent obtained loan amounts or purchases made. Ongoing audits and investigations means those who committed fraud may be prosecuted years later.
Civil penalties include treble damages up to three times lost amounts, civil fines, and being barred from federal contracts. The SBA has clawback authority to recoup funds through administrative proceedings. Those convicted also commonly face heavy fines and restitution orders.
Given severe penalties, building an effective defense is critical. Here are some common defenses our experienced attorneys use:
An experienced federal criminal defense attorney can carefully analyze the facts of your case and build customized defenses focusing on the weaknesses of the prosecution’s arguments. This provides the best chance at an acquittal or avoiding harsh penalties.
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