Farmington restaurant owner convicted of PPP loan fraud
PEORIA (25 News Now) - The FBI and Federal prosecutors are continuing their crack-down on COVID Paycheck Protection Program loan fraud. The latest guilty plea coming from a former restaurant owner in Farmington. Michael L. Patch entered a guilty plea on three Federal fraud charges on Thursday.
Court records show Michael L. Patch ran the now closed Vernon Street Grill in Farmington. Prosecutors said he lied about how much money they made and how much he paid his employees in order to take out more than 15 thousand dollars in forgivable loans.
After pleading not guilty in October a year ago, he entered a guilty plea to three federal charges of fraud last Thursday.
Public records show he received a PPP loan for $11,556 and a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan for $4,000. He took the loans out through the Bank of Farmington, leading to one charge of Bank Fraud. The other two charges are for Wire Fraud.
In addition to falsifying the loan application, prosecutors said Patch overpaid his employees, and then asked them to pay him back in cash the amount he overpaid. This was an attempt to conceal his receipt of the PPP loan.
The money was meant to help keep struggling businesses afloat during the pandemic.
Patch is facing a possibility of up to 20 years in prison for each charge. Sentencing is scheduled for February 9, 2023.
The FBI estimates nearly 100 billion dollars in fraud cases were given out by the government.
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