Former Georgia Mayoral Candidate Sentenced to Prison for Paycheck Protection Program Fraud

Former Georgia mayoral candidate Olivia Ware was sentenced to prison for her role in a scheme that stole thousands from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The PPP grants were issued to businesses by the federal government during the coronavirus pandemic. The funds were intended to help companies maintain payments to their employees.

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Report Claims Unions Skirted Rules to Receive Paycheck Protection Program Loans

The Small Business Administration-administered Paycheck Protection Program paid out millions of dollars to ineligible unions, according to a new report released by the Freedom Foundation.

The Freedom Foundation investigated the SBA’s database of PPP loans, and concluded approximately 226 loans totaling $36.7 million were distributed to labor unions and affiliated organizations. The first round of PPP loans explicitly states such entities were ineligible for the government funds prior to March 11, 2021.

“The Small Business Administration knew as early as July 2020 that Paycheck Protection Program loans were being approved for unions that weren’t eligible to receive the funds,” Maxford Nelsen, Freedom Fund director of Labor Policy, told The Center Square.

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Five Atlanta Residents Charged with Fraud in Alleged COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program Scheme

Federal officials in Atlanta have charged 22 people nationwide, including Georgia, with wire fraud conspiracy and other charges in an alleged scheme to obtain nearly $4 million in COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. This, according to a press release that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia published this week.

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Smyrna, Tennessee Man Allegedly Used Paycheck Protection Program Fraud Gains to Buy a Maserati Sports Car, Semi-Trailer Truck, and More

several $100 bills

The Department of Justice announced this week a man from Smyrna, Tennessee was charged for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud. Shawn Palmer, who is the sole owner of Palmers Transportation, Inc. was charged with a criminal information which alleges he applied for and received a PPP loan of $514,370.

According to the charging document, in June of 2020 Palmer sent documents to an individual who assisted him to apply for a PPP loan. The documents were then sent to Kabbage, Inc. which was “a lender approved by the Small Business Administration to provide funds under the program which was designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Commentary: $800 Billion Stimulus Program Failed Terribly and Mostly Benefited the Wealthy, MIT Economist Finds

Close up of federal check

The federal government has spent an astounding $42,000 per federal taxpayer on so-called “stimulus” efforts since the pandemic began. Where did all that money go? Well, as it turns out, one of the biggest stimulus programs, the Paycheck Protection Program, failed miserably.

At least, that’s the finding of a new study from MIT economist David Autor and nine coauthors. They examined the $800 billion Paycheck Protection Program, which gave “loans,” most of which won’t have to be paid back, to businesses. It was created by Republicans and Democrats in Congress alike in hopes of helping businesses preserve their employees’ jobs for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. 

The study tracks the money to see where it ended up and what it achieved. The results… aren’t pretty. 

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Knoxville Man Sentenced to Prison for Defrauding COVID-19 Economic Relief Programs

The Department of Justice announced this week a Knoxville, Tennessee man was arrested for defrauding COVID-19 economic relief programs. James Waylon Howell pled guilty to “engaging in more than $150,000 in fraud related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and to committing money laundering.” He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

“This prosecution highlights the Department of Justice’s commitment to aggressively prosecute those who have defrauded these important programs enacted to provide economic relief to those who have suffered financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said United States Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III.  “Fortunately, the quick and capable work of our federal partners permitted the recovery of a substantial amount of stolen funds.”

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Small Business Administration Not Taking Direct Action Against Partner Lenders That Issued Billions in Fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program Loans

The Small Business Administration is not taking action against its partner lenders that issued billions of dollars in fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans, Just the News has learned.

Congress appropriated almost $1 trillion in forgivable PPP loans to assist businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 15% of the $961 billion is projected to have been obtained fraudulently, according to a study.

A House of Representatives panel estimated that $84 billion in PPP funds was issued fraudulently.

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Two Florida Men Plead Guilty to $35 Million COVID Relief Scam

Two South Florida men have pleaded guilty to a scheme to defraud the federal government of $35 million worth of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and funded by federal coronavirus relief money.

James R. Stote, 55, of Hollywood and Phillip J. Augustin, 52, of Coral Springs pleaded guilty this week in the Northern District of Ohio for leading a scheme that stretched from Florida to Ohio, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced. The two pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and each faces up to 20 years in prison.

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Fraudsters Used Paycheck Protection Program Loans for Bentleys, Diamonds, Luxury Homes: Watchdog

woman on laptop with eye glasses and mug next to her

This week’s Golden Horseshoe goes to the Small Business Administration for millions in Paycheck Protection Program loans it issued to fraudsters who used the money to purchase luxury homes, high-priced jewelry and expensive cars, including a Bentley and two Lamborghinis, according to a watchdog report.

The Paycheck Protection Program had the highest percentage of cases of criminal activity of all the pandemic relief programs, according to the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee’s recent Semiannual Report to Congress.

“A total of 14 OIGs have indictments/complaints, arrests, and/or convictions from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021, related to the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic response,” PRAC reported.

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Nearly 300 Venues in Michigan Awarded $280M in Grants

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shuttered much economic activity in Michigan without compensation for lost revenue. While groceries stores stayed open, venues designed for packing people into spaces like theaters, museums, and zoos to enjoy art shuttered for longer than five months.

So the U.S. Small Business Administration administered over $16 billion nationwide through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grantees (SVOG) nationwide. In Michigan, 279 businesses ranging from museums to art centers to theaters have been promised a total of $280 million, with amounts from $3,500 to up to $10 million.

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Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta Star Sentenced for Paycheck Protection Fraud

Federal officials in Georgia have sentenced reality TV star Maurice Fayne to more than 17 years in federal prison for making false statements to a financial institution related a fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application. Fayne starred in the series Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta.

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Tennessee Woman Indicted for Alleged COVID-19-Loan Scheme

Federal officials have arrested and arraigned a Benton, Tennessee woman and charged her with wire fraud, money laundering, and operating an unlicensed money transmittal business, commonly known as a “money mule” operation. This, according to a press release that staff members for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee published this week.

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Arizona’s U.S. Senator Mark Kelly Proposes Legislation to Fund Local Mainstream Media

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) joined U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) to co-sponsor legislation that indirectly funds local media. The Local Journalism Sustainability Act establishes tax credits that give consumers a huge deduction on media subscriptions, subsidizes journalists’ salaries, and funds news outlets by paying for businesses to advertise.

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Georgia Residents Allegedly Used Paycheck Protection Program Loans on Luxury Items

Federal officials in Georgia have charged 22 people in connection with what they call a fraudulent scheme to obtain approximately $11.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Those people allegedly used that money to purchase luxury vehicles, jewelry, and other personal items.

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Warner, Wexton Highlight American Rescue Plan Opportunities for Broadband Expansion and Small Business Relief

Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-Virginia-10) made two stops in northern Virginia on Friday and Monday discussing impacts of COVID-19 and financial opportunities from federal relief.

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Hundreds of Millions in Paycheck Protection Program Loans Went to CCP-Backed Firms, as U.S. Small Businesses Went Under

U.S Small Business Administration

The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just the News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The award is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s.

This week, our award is going to the United States Small Business Administration and Treasury Department for awarding at least $200 million, but as much as $420 million, to Chinese Communist Party-linked businesses by way of the Paycheck Protection Program, intended to assist U.S. small businesses that were devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, widely believed to have originated in China.

A report from the Horizon Advisory strategic consulting group illustrates how negligible congressional oversight allowed at least 125 Chinese firms to “take advantage of the international disaster” by benefitting “directly from U.S. investment and relief measures.”

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Senior NASA Employee Pleads Guilty to COVID-19 Related Loan Fraud

A senior NASA employee has plead guilty to bank fraud after applying for over $350,000 in COVID-19-related relief. On Monday, NASA Senior Executive Service employee Andrew Tezna pleaded guilty to submitting fraudulent applications for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Economic Injury Disaster loans, and COVID-19 unemployment benefits for his retired mother-in-law.

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Commentary: Did PPP Work?

As the Small Business Administration official who oversaw the Paycheck Protection Program, I’m often asked, “Did PPP actually work?”  

PPP was a response to state and local governments mandating shutdowns as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19. The premise was this: Encourage lenders to provide small businesses and nonprofits with forgivable, SBA-guaranteed loans over an eight-week period as a payroll-support measure. This small business financial support was designed to help prevent mass unemployment as Americans were confined to their homes.  

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Former Conyers Mayoral Candidate Allegedly Stole Massive Funds from the Paycheck Protection Program

A former mayoral candidate for the city of Conyers allegedly concocted a scheme to use a company she started to steal more than $323,000 from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia arraigned the woman, Olivia Ware, 61, on federal charges of bank fraud and money laundering.

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Forgivable PPP Loans May Have State Tax Implications for Michigan Businesses

Michigan businesses can accept their forgiven pandemic loans without worrying about paying federal taxes, but it’s not yet clear if they’ll owe state taxes.

More than 121,000 Michigan businesses took federal forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans valued at approximately $15.7 billion.

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Virginia Delegate McNamara Pre-Files Legislation Exempting Forgiven PPP Loans from State Taxes

Delegate Joe McNamara (R-Roanoke) has pre-filed HB 1787, legislation for the 2021 General Assembly session that will exempt business owners from state taxes on forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. PPP loans are part of broad COVID-19 relief funding meant to help small businesses keep paying their employees.

When the PPP was passed by Congress in March 2020, the forgivable loans were exempt from federal taxes, but Virginia’s tax structure means the forgiven PPP loans are not automatically exempt from state taxes. McNamara said that could lead to confusion for business owners.

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Republicans Will Put PPP Funding Back on the Floor for a Vote Despite Democrats’ Efforts to Block It, Sen. Blackburn Says

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) told CNBC’s SquawkBox on Wednesday that Republicans will try again to pass their bill that would provide PPP and vaccine funding despite Democrats’ attempts to block the efforts.

CNBC asked Blackburn if she would vote for a deal if the White House and the Treasury Department reached an agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12).

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Congressional Debate: Candidates Scott Taylor and Incumbent Elaine Luria Spar Over Stimulus Packages and Gun Control

Republican challenger Scott Taylor and incumbent Representative Elaine Luria (D-Virginia Beach) faced off Tuesday night in their first televised debate. The 2nd Congressional District race is currently a toss-up.
Political reporter Joe St. George served as the moderator. Questions featured were presented in three segments: from the moderator first, then viewers, and lastly from Taylor and Luria.

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DeWine’s Baseball Team’s Paycheck Protection Program Loan Nets Millionaire Governor $189K of Forgivable Taxpayer Handout

With news that Gov. Mike DeWine’s minor league baseball team cashed in on the Paycheck Protection Program, one may ask how Ohio’s top executive came to own a team in North Carolina or why he needed a taxpayer handout.

DeWine has a 32 percent stake in the Asheville Tourists minor league team, The Ohio Star reported this week.

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Small Business Administration Gave Loans to Multi-Million Dollar Companies

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Treasury Department this week released the names of 4.9 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan recipient businesses and nonprofits that received $150,000 or more.

The mostly forgivable PPP loans were funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

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Gov. DeWine’s Company, which Owns a Minor Baseball Team in North Carolina, Gets Loan from Federal Virus Aid Program

A company partly owned by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is among those that received loans from a $600 billion-plus coronavirus aid program.

The data released Monday shows DeWine Seeds-Silver Dollar Baseball received a loan under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program for a range of $150,000 to $350,000.

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SBA: 2.2 Million Loans, $175B Issued So Far in 2nd Round of Paycheck Protection Program

The Small Business Administration and the U.S. Treasury revealed Sunday that the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program has issued 2.2 million loans, totaling $175 billion.

PPP loans are forgivable loans for small businesses to offset some of the losses experienced by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The loans are meant to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

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Sen. Sherrod Brown Calls for Investigation into Reports Paycheck Protection Program Prioritized ‘Wealthier Clients’

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined two other Democrats in calling for an investigation into reports some Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) lenders are prioritizing “larger and wealthier clients.”

In a letter to Small Business Administration (SBA) Inspector General Mike Ware, the senators allege some lenders “have prioritized the applications of their larger and wealthier clients to the detriment of smaller [businesses] adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.”

U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, joined Brown, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, in sending the letter.

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Wells Fargo Bows Out of Small Business Bailout Program After Receiving $10 Billion of Loan Applications

One of the largest banks in the United States announced that it is no longer accepting applications for a federal program aimed at rescuing small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Wells Fargo has stopped accepting new applications for the government’s Paycheck Protection Program, an initiative created by the government to assist U.S. businesses that employ fewer than 500 people. The bank’s decision came after it was inundated with billions of dollars in loan requests since Friday.

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