A man from Coppell, Texas, has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for running a fraudulent scheme to receive about $24.8 million in forgivable loans from the Paycheck Protection Program during the pandemic, the Justice Department announced.
Dinesh Sah, 55, pleaded guilty in March to wire fraud and money-laundering offenses, the Justice Department said Wednesday in a press release. Officials said Sah sent 15 fraudulent applications to eight different lenders, filed under the names of fake businesses he claimed to own as COVID-19 spread.
Sah claimed he had many employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll expenses, the Justice Department said. However, he had no employees nor did he pay the wages claimed in the Paycheck Protection Program applications.
“Today’s sentence serves as a clear reminder that individuals who exploit COVID-relief programs to enrich themselves will be held accountable under the law,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr., of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said. “The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners remain committed to aggressively pursuing and bringing to justice those who steal federal funds intended to help legitimate small businesses.”
Sah sent fraudulent federal tax filings, bank statements and information on representatives for the specified businesses, prosecutors said.
“Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program to help struggling businesses stay afloat, not to fund faux entrepreneurs’ luxury lifestyles,” Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah of the Northern District of Texas said in the press release. “Even as COVID-19 devastated companies around the nation, Mr. Sah sapped millions of dollars from the relief fund that could have helped them. He exploited the pandemic for personal gain, and we are proud to hold him accountable.”
Sah received over $17 million in Paycheck Protection Program loan funds and used them to purchase multiple homes in Texas, pay off the mortgages on residences in California and buy luxury cars, including a Bentley convertible, Corvette Stingray, and Porsche Macan.
Sah also sent millions in international money transfers, prosecutors said.
Sah agreed as part of the guilty plea to forfeit eight homes, six luxury vehicles, and more than $9 million in fraudulent proceeds. He must pay $17.3 million in restitution on top of his prison sentence, the Justice Department said.
Since the passage of COVID-19 relief packages by Congress, multiple incidents of fraudulent activity have surfaced.
A Florida man was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison in May after using fraudulent relief checks to purchase a Lamborghini. A couple pleaded guilty in March to fraudulently filing loan applications for the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans totaling more than $1.1 million.
The Justice Department charged seven individuals in November with participating in a scheme that fraudulently gave them $16 million in the forgivable loans.
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