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Georgia PPP – SBA – EIDL Loan Fraud Lawyers

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

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The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program were created to provide emergency financial assistance to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, these programs have also become targets for fraud and abuse. In Georgia, federal prosecutors have charged dozens of individuals with defrauding the PPP and EIDL programs out of millions of dollars. For small business owners accused of COVID-19 relief fraud, it is critical to obtain experienced legal counsel immediately. Georgia PPP and EIDL fraud attorneys can advise on possible defenses and negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges or sentences.

Federal Charges for Georgia PPP and EIDL Fraud

The most common federal charges for PPP and EIDL fraud in Georgia include wire fraud, bank fraud, theft of government funds, and false statements. Defendants face up to 30 years in prison for wire and bank fraud. Theft of government funds carries up to 10 years imprisonment, while false statement charges have a 5 year maximum sentence. Fines up to $250,000 are also possible.

Some examples of PPP and EIDL fraud prosecuted in Georgia include:

  • Ellen Corkrum of Roswell, who got over $7.9 million in PPP loans using fake documents and false statements. She was sentenced to 41 months in prison.
  • Maurice Lawson of Atlanta, who applied for PPP loans just days after being sentenced for mortgage fraud. He received 3 years in prison.
  • Teresa Keever of Blairsville, who used a shell company to get $1.5 million in PPP loans. She pled guilty to bank fraud.
  • Reality TV stars Todd and Julie Chrisley of Atlanta, who were convicted of bank fraud for falsifying documents to obtain PPP loans.

How PPP and EIDL Fraud Occurs

There are many ways fraudsters have exploited emergency COVID-19 relief programs:

  • Using stolen or fake identities to apply for loans
  • Falsifying payroll, tax, and other financial documents
  • Lying about number of employees or payroll amounts
  • Creating shell companies to multiply loan amounts
  • Using loan proceeds for personal purchases instead of business costs
  • Applying for duplicate PPP loans through multiple lenders

Some common red flags federal agents look for are small businesses getting approved for unusually large loan amounts exceeding $2 million, businesses formed right before the pandemic, inconsistencies in application documents, and lavish personal spending right after receiving funds.

Possible Defenses for Georgia PPP and EIDL Fraud

Though PPP and EIDL fraud charges are very serious, experienced attorneys can raise several possible defenses to fight the allegations:

  • Lack of intent: Prosecutors must prove you knowingly tried to defraud the programs. Evidence showing a lack of criminal intent could undermine charges.
  • Faulty documents: If inaccurate documents were submitted by mistake, it could weaken accusations you intentionally deceived lenders.
  • Authorized use of funds: Evidence you spent loan proceeds on legitimate business expenses allowed under program rules could defeat fraud claims.
  • Return of funds: Paying back any disputed loan amounts and cooperating with investigations may convince prosecutors not to pursue charges.
  • Duress or coercion: If you were pressured or misled by a third party into committing fraud, it could provide a defense.

Skilled Georgia PPP and EIDL fraud lawyers thoroughly examine the facts of each case to craft the strongest defense strategy possible. They can also negotiate with prosecutors for pretrial diversion programs or reduced penalties.

How Lawyers Defend Against Georgia COVID-19 Fraud Charges

The top Georgia PPP and EIDL fraud attorneys have extensive experience defending complex white collar cases in federal court. Their defense tactics may include:

  • Conducting an independent investigation to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case
  • Retaining forensic accountants to analyze financial records and challenge the government’s figures
  • Interviewing key witnesses to develop contradictory testimony disproving fraudulent intent
  • Gathering evidence of authorized business expenses and proper loan use to show no theft occurred
  • Presenting evidence of lender negligence or unclear program rules contributing to errors
  • Negotiating with prosecutors before charges are filed to avoid indictment
  • Arguing for pretrial diversion and having charges dismissed after a probationary period
  • Seeking reduced charges or sentencing departures if charges cannot be avoided
  • Appealing convictions if necessary by raising issues like improper evidence or procedural errors

Skilled advocates can often get charges dismissed pre-indictment or negotiate substantially lower penalties in PPP and EIDL fraud cases. Their thorough preparation and aggressive negotiation with prosecutors can make the difference between prison time and probation.

Consequences of a Georgia COVID-19 Fraud Conviction

Defendants convicted of PPP or EIDL fraud face severe consequences including:

  • Years or even decades in federal prison, depending on loan amounts and prior record
  • Massive fines up to $250,000 per count
  • Federal supervised release for multiple years after prison
  • Restitution repaying all fraudulently obtained funds
  • Permanent criminal record making jobs, licensing, and financing difficult
  • Potential civil lawsuits from lenders seeking to recover losses
  • Exclusion from government contracting opportunities
  • Negative publicity, reputation damage, and public embarrassment

Those convicted also lose many civil rights including voting, jury service, and gun ownership. Non-citizens charged with PPP or EIDL fraud may face deportation. The collateral impacts spread to family members as well.

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