Federal prosecutors say a Massachusetts man who tried to defraud the government of more than half a million dollars in coronavirus relief funds aimed at keeping small businesses alive and then committing suicide has been sentenced to 56 months in prison.
David Stavley, 54, of Andover, the first person in the United States to be charged with fraudulent business loan fraud at the time of his arrest, the judiciary announced Thursday.
David Batziger, 53, of Rhode Island, and Stavley and his associates claim that dozens of employees have been paid in four different businesses. But they didn’t own the business and no employees were working for them, prosecutors said. The pair applied for a 543,7778 fund shortly after the small business loan program was announced.
“It was about getting rich and making money easily,” said U.S. District Court Judge Mary S. McLaughlin.
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Stavley and Batzigar were the first people in the nation to be charged with attempting to defraud the Care Act SBA Paycheck Protection Program. According to authorities, no money was released to the men.
After being accused of fraud and under house arrest in May 2020, Stavley removed his surveillance device, parked his car near the sea inside his wallet, and left suicide notes for associates and family members. He then used fake identities and stolen license plates to travel to different states. After U.S. marshals began investigating the fugitive, he was finally taken into custody in Georgia in late July 2020.
Both Stavley and his mother appealed to the judge for flexibility, claiming that Stavley had developed weak PTSD after being tortured in a previous period in federal prison. His lawyer argued that he had been suffering from self-isolation for the past 14 months.
He had previously served two separate sentences in federal prison for stealing $ 284,000 from a minor league baseball team and for mortgage fraud in New Hampshire.
Batzigar will be sentenced on November 1.
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The paycheck protection program was created for small businesses to save on small loans that can be used to save jobs. A report from the University of Texas at Austin identified more than 1.8 million loans, indicating about 76 76 billion, indicating potential fraud by 1.8 million recipients.
A man in Southern California was arrested in May this year after federal authorities said he had embezzled billions of dollars in coronavirus relief funds to buy luxury cars, take luxury vacations and meet personal expenses. A man in Florida was charged with buying a seven-bedroom building using fined PPP funds.