CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Calvin Butler, 25, of Dunbar, was sentenced today to five years of federal probation, including six months on home detention, and ordered to pay $18,540 in restitution for a scheme to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) COVID-19 relief loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
The CARES Act, enacted in March 2020, offered emergency financial assistance to Americans suffering from the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This assistance included forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses through the Paycheck Protection Program. Businesses applying for PPP loans had to certify that the business was in operation on February 15, 2020, and were required to provide documentation showing their prior gross income from either 2019 or 2020.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Butler provided his personal information to an individual he met on the Instagram social media platform who offered to apply for a PPP loan on Butler’s behalf in exchange for $2,000 of the loan proceeds. On April 25, 2021, this individual electronically submitted an application falsely stating that Butler operated a barbershop and that it had received $77,000 in gross income in 2020. Butler admitted that he knew he was not eligible to receive a PPP loan.
The fraudulent PPP loan application was approved and $16,040 was electronically deposited from a financial institution in Tennessee to Butler’s account at a bank in South Charleston, West Virginia, on June 7, 2021. Butler admitted that he knew the deposit was the result of the fraudulent PPP loan application. Butler further admitted that he withdrew the fraudulently obtained money in $5,000 increments to benefit himself personally and not for any legitimate business expenses.
Butler pleaded guilty to wire fraud. United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the West Virginia State Police-Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), the West Virginia State Auditor’s Public Integrity and Fraud Unit, and the Litigation Financial Analyst with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorney Ryan Blackwell prosecuted the case.