Two men were charged this week with fraud after applying for parting loans under the Small Business Administration (SBA) Payroll Protection Program (PPP) under the Coronavirus Relief, Assistance and Economic Security Act (CARES ), announced US Attorney Trent Shores.
Rafael Maturino, 40, of Broken Arrow, was charged with bank fraud after implementing First Bank of Owasso’s fraudulent scheme when applying for a PPP loan under a false pretense on April 28, 2020. 44-year-old Adam Winston James from Tulsa was charged with aggravated identity theft after he carried out a scheme to defraud Regent Bank when, under false pretenses, applied for a PPP loan on May 6, 2020. The two men were charged separately, but they worked together to implement their schemes.
“The payroll protection program was designed to ease the economic constraints of COVID-19 for working Americans,” said US Attorney Trent Shores. “It’s a shame to see such criminal behavior amid a pandemic, when so many of our fellow citizens are fighting. Rest assured, my team is committed to protecting these federal dollars from fraudsters. ”
According to court documents, Maturino applied for a PPP loan on behalf of Maturino Enterprises, Inc., which he claimed to own and operate, Maturino submitted forms that skewed the company’s payroll expenses, the amount of taxes paid and number of employees. As a result of his alleged scheme, he received $ 97,800 from the bank.
James allegedly applied for a PPP loan on behalf of Velocity Innovations LLC, which he claimed to own and operate. As part of the application, James used the identities of at least seven other people without their knowledge, fraudulently claiming that they were employees of Velocity Innovations LLC. As a result of this scheme, James received $ 125,900 from the bank.
The CARES Act is a federal law passed on March 29, 2020 with the aim of providing emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by CARES was allowing up to $ 349 billion in forgiven loans to small businesses to save jobs and certain other expenses through the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). In April 2020, Congress authorized more than $ 300 billion in additional PPP funding.
PPP allows qualified small businesses and other organizations to obtain loans with a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1 percent. Proceeds from PPP loans are to be used by businesses for wages, mortgage interest, rents, and utilities. PPP allows interest and principal to be forgiven if businesses spend the proceeds on these costs for a set period and use a certain percentage of the loan to cover payroll costs.
Alleged violations of federal law must be proven in court beyond reasonable doubt in order to overcome the defendant’s presumption of innocence.
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Office of the Inspector General; Small Business Office of the Inspector General; and the FBI are investigating authorities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor Regal is in charge of the case.