In early December 2021, CG attorneys wrote about a Georgia man sentenced to two years in prison for CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan fraud. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia prosecuted the case. Recently, the DOJ announced the sentencing of another Georgia resident for PPP loan fraud, which the same U.S. Attorney’s Office assisted with prosecuting.
On January 4, 2021, the DOJ announced that Georgia resident Hunter VanPelt, also known as Ellen Corkrum, was sentenced to nearly 3.5 years in prison (41 months) for PPP loan fraud. In August 2021, Ms. VanPelt pled guilted to bank fraud related to submitting six fraudulent PPP loan applications on behalf of six companies she owned or controlled. She obtained over $6 million in PPP loan funds, although she sought more than $7.9 million. The DOJ and law enforcement partners seized and recovered about $2.1 million of the disbursed PPP funds. The DOJ also noted that a bank seized $1.6 million and returned the funds to the lender.
Since the CARES Act was signed into law, CG attorneys have warned about heightened enforcement efforts. CG attorneys wrote about the increased risk of government scrutiny for recipients of the PPP, which initially provided over $349 billion in forgivable PPP loans to small businesses. In September 2020, CG attorneys wrote about then Attorney General Bill Barr’s instruction to the DOJ to focus on pandemic-related fraud, including fraud schemes related to the PPP and the fact the DOJ set up a “team dedicated to PPP fraud …” Since DOJ warnings of increased scrutiny, there has been no shortage of indictments, guilty pleas, and at least one civil settlement related to PPP loan fraud.
No level of notoriety has shielded individuals from the enforcement efforts related to COVID-19 relief programs, including the PPP. In December 2021, CG attorneys discussed a former NFL player pleading guilty to PPP loan fraud. Reality television stars have also been prosecuted for PPP loan fraud. There are no indications the government’s enforcement efforts will decline, and recipients of PPP funds should ensure compliance with the program.
The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent clients of all types and sizes in connection with white-collar criminal investigations and health care fraud investigations. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.