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When the COVID-19 pandemic began to grip the United States, the government looked to assist individuals and small businesses through a government loan program. This program was called the Paycheck Protection Program.
In March 2020, the government began dispersing these loans to those who needed them most. But as an outstanding loan never meant to be repaid, the government knew that fraud could and would occur.
These days, businesses have been able to open their doors once more. However, the government is prosecuting those who they think took advantage of the program and defrauded the government. Here is what you need to know about the Paycheck Protection Program fraud and what you should do if accused of fraud.
There were two rounds of PPP loans provided to people. For the first wave, a person must have met these criteria to qualify:
For the second round of PPP loans, businesses must meet the original criteria concerning dates but now must have 300 or fewer employees (at each location) and have a 25 percent or more significant reduction in their gross revenue.
If approved for a PPP loan, a business must follow strict spending guidelines. An organization must spend funds on payroll expenses such as paid leave, employee benefits, or salaries. They could also use it for utilities related to the business and bonuses in the form of commissions or hazard pay.
A person who applies for a loan under fraudulent pretenses is liable for committing PPP loan fraud. Loan fraud can occur if a business or individual neglects to abide by the established guidelines of the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP program has strict criteria guidelines for determining how an organization should allocate funds. Attempting to certify PPP loan forgiveness or submitting false information when applying for a PPP loan is considered PPP loan fraud. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies will pursue an investigation if these guidelines are ignored or if an individual falsely applies for loan forgiveness.
Some examples of actions by individuals or businesses that have led to PPP loan fraud accusations include:
PPP loan fraud is a crime that can fall under different federal criminal statutes. Making false statements to a federal agency is one avenue prosecutors can take. Still, they can also prosecute a person for making false statements on a loan application or to the SBA. Penalties can range from five years to 99 behind bars and fines up to $1 million.
If you are involved in a PPP loan fraud investigation, you must contact an experienced attorney to help represent you in the case as soon as possible.
The client believed to be facing potential Wire Fraud Charges related to SBA PPP loan applications. Investigation of applications for PPP loans and PPP forgiveness demonstrated that the Client had at all times acted in a lawful manner. Investigation demonstrated no fraud was committed by the client. Case closed.
Client was charged by Federal Indictment with making a social media post that threatened Malicious Damage and Destruction of a Building by Means of Fire and Explosives in violation of Federal law. The Defense showed that Client was a law-abiding citizen. The Defense further showed that the alleged threat was not made with any criminal intent.
The client, a public official with a long history of public service, was accused by a former girlfriend of engaging in non-consensual sexual relations. The Defense investigation and analysis showed through a detailed timeline that the allegation made absolutely no sense. Phone records, including calls and texts, were relied on to help establish an accurate timeline. The Defense met with law enforcement and reviewed a detailed package that exonerated the accused.
Client, a Houston area professional who frequently travels for work, was accused by his wife of assaulting her in his family home. Defense showed that wife’s story lacked credibility and there was no physical evidence in support of the wife’s allegation.
The client, a young Black male, was driving his car when police pulled him over for no apparent reason. It looked to be a profile stop. The client was accused of possessing a controlled substance in his vehicle. The Defense showed that there was no lawful basis for the police to stop the Client’s car. The Defense also showed that there was no lawful basis for the search of the Client’s car. It was a bad search, so the seized evidence was not admissible.
Client charged in Federal Indictment In “Operation Wrecking Ball” with 55 named co-defendants. Client faced seven charges. Client was charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering. Client was also charged with four counts of Distribution of Cocaine and one count of Money laundering.
Allegations involved client’s alleged use of his home to distribute cocaine. Government’s lengthy investigation involved numerous wiretaps, surveillance, video, pole cams, search warrants, vehicle stops and use of cooperating co-defendants.
Client went to trial with four remaining defendants. After a two-week trial, Judge granted Motion for Acquittal on four of the seven charges. Jury found Client Not Guilty of remaining three charges.
Client charged in Federal Court with two counts of Wire Fraud related to Five SBA EIDL loan applications. The Government alleged the client, a Houston professional, defrauded the Small Business Administration out of over $150,000. The Government also found the intended loss was over half a million dollars. The Client faced up to 20 years in prison on each count. The Defense investigated the case and negotiated a deal that included the Government not opposing a probation. The Federal Guideline calculation was for a prison sentence and the Probation Department recommended a prison sentence. Attorney Fickman submitted a 90 page Defense Sentencing Memorandum asking for Probation.
Client was retired professional. Client was accused of being involved in a road rage incident in 1960 Area. Defense put together a 100 page memorandum that demonstrated complainant was actual aggressor.
Client was accused of touching child. Case involved thousands of pages of psychiatric and Child Protective Services records as well as investigations by multiple police departments. After three- year fight, case dismissed.
Client accused of shoving and knocking down family member causing injury. After investigation, charges were dismissed.
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