The first person in the country to be charged with attempting to steal the Covid-1 relief fund and who forged his own suicide and fled for several months to avoid justice has been sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison.
Prosecutors say David Adler Stavley, 54, of Andover, Massachusetts, made four fraudulent applications for Covid-1 relief relief loans in his brother’s name, claiming he ran three large restaurants and a cell-phone business with three dozen employees.
Stavley, previously convicted of two counts of forgery in New Hampshire, unknowingly used his brother’s name, prosecutors said.
According to prosecutors, Stavley applied for about 5 550,000 in government aid using a fake tax return made by his co-conspirator, David Buttinger, 52, of Warwick, RI.
But prosecutors say Stavley is not just the owner of the restaurant, but no restaurant has been in business for some time at the time of submitting the loan application. There were no employees in the cell-phone business, according to court records.
Loans are ultimately denied after a person is described as a “concerned citizen” in court documents, warning law enforcement about fraud.
The men were arrested in Rhode Island in May 2020 and charged with stealing epidemic aid from anywhere in the country. Three weeks after his arrest, prosecutors say Stavley removed his home-monitoring device and fled after trying to mimic his own death.
Investigators say Stavley left fake suicide notes with his 80-year-old mother, a colleague and family members in his open car with his wallet. He then abandoned the vehicle by the sea in Massachusetts. Search and rescue boats searched for water for his body, but to no avail.
“Many of his family members and associates were deprived of the belief that Stavley had actually killed himself, although those who knew him informed law enforcement that they suspected it was another plot hatched by the defendant.” Memo
Over the weeks, prosecutors say Stavley has traveled to several states using fake identities and changing his mobile phone number five times. He was finally apprehended on July 23, 2020 at the hands of marshals in Alfereta, Ga., Who found numerous fake IDs in his belongings.
In May of this year, Stavley Bank pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and failure to appear in court. Buttinger has been convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and is due to be sentenced on November 1.
In court papers, prosecutors say Stavley blamed the decision to try to steal the epidemic-relief money because he was in a bad relationship that led to trauma early in his life. They further say that he argued that he fled after Batzinger cut off his observation device and told him to “go south.”
“The defendant appears incapable of taking full responsibility solely for his own choice. No one in the national crisis forced him to defraud the government. No one forced him to commit suicide and flee. He did so voluntarily and intentionally,” he argued. Prosecutors wrote.
A message from Stavley’s lawyer was not immediately returned.