(The Center Square) – A federal judge sentenced a Middlesex County man to two-and-a-half years in prison for fraudulently receiving Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds and depositing a “stolen and altered” treasury check.
According to federal prosecutors, Bernard Lopez, 40, of Sayreville, previously pleaded guilty to bank fraud and theft of government funds.
Prosecutors say Lopez deposited the treasury check for $211,886 into a corporate bank account he established under the name of Pezlo Management LLC. Lopez withdrew the money from the account “before the bank could detect the fraud,” according to a news release.
They also say Lopez submitted a PPP application on behalf of a company he said he controlled.
According to a news release, he claimed the company had 25 employees and had a monthly payroll of about $192,000, and additional utility and mortgage/lease expenses. However, prosecutors say the company did not have any employees or payroll or utility expenses.
A bank approved the loan application and provided the purported business with $481,502 in PPP money, which prosecutors say Lopez used, in part, for personal use.
In addition to the 30-month prison term, U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan sentenced Lopez to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution of $137,000 and forfeiture of $481,502.
Congress created the PPP loans to help businesses struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This article was published by The Center Square and is republished here with permission. Click here to view the original.
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