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Last Updated on: 13th October 2023, 02:16 am
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was created in 2020 to provide economic relief for small businesses struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. PPP offered potentially forgivable loans to help cover payroll, rent, utilities and other business expenses. However, some business owners and individuals took advantage of the program and committed fraud to obtain funds they weren‘t entitled to. So how much time can you actually get for PPP fraud?Well, it really depends on the specific circumstances and charges – PPP fraud can potentially lead to decades in prison. Let‘s take a look at some of the factors that determine sentencing for PPP fraud crimes:
There are a few main ways PPP fraud can occur:
While the CARES Act itself doesn’t contain criminal penalties, PPP fraud can lead to charges under pre-existing federal fraud laws, including:
So right off the bat, certain PPP fraud charges carry potential penalties of decades in prison. And individuals can face multiple charges at once – for example, bank fraud plus aggravated identity theft.
When it comes to determining an actual sentence, federal judges look at a variety of factors, including:
Looking at actual cases can help illustrate how much prison time PPP fraudsters have received:
So while judges have flexibility in sentencing, even relatively “small” PPP fraud cases of several hundred thousand dollars have led to years in federal prison – especially when factors like criminal history or leadership role come into play.And the Department of Justice has made it clear that PPP fraud of any amount will be prosecuted, saying “If you make false statements to get a PPP loan or use PPP loan proceeds to enrich yourself, you can expect us to come knocking.”
For defendants facing PPP fraud charges, avoiding prison time requires an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer. Strategies may include:
But there are never any guarantees when it comes to avoiding jail for PPP fraud. Much depends on the specific circumstances, charges, and federal judge. For lower level offenders with no criminal history and relatively small loan amounts, probation or home confinement may be possible.Yet for multi-million dollar fraud schemes involving false documents, stolen identities, or lavish personal spending, defendants are facing steep uphill battles against lengthy prison sentences, especially if they proceed to trial rather than reach a plea agreement.
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