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Man pleads guilty to COVID relief fraud of more than $600,000


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    MILWAUKEE, WI (WDJT) — A Milwaukee man admitted he fraudulently sought over $600,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans through applications to an insured financial institution on behalf of three different companies on Monday, April 12.

Officials say, Stephen Smith, 42, pleaded guilty for his role in fraudulently obtaining the loans which were guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

According to Smith’s plea agreement, Smith caused fraudulent loan applications to be submitted that made numerous false and misleading statements about the companies’ respective payroll expenses, officials say.

Smith directed his co-conspirators to send him portions of the PPP funds within days of receiving them and used the proceeds for personal expenses, according to a news release.

Smith pleaded guilty to bank fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday, July 14. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

Officials say United States District Judge Brett Ludwig will determine Smith’s sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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