On June 30, a Seattle doctor was taken into custody for allegedly seeking $3 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release.
Dr. Eric R. Shibley is charged in a criminal complaint “with one count of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud.” Shibley allegedly “submitted several fraudulent PPP loan applications to federally insured financial institutions,” as well as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and other SBA-approved lenders. He made these submissions “in the name of businesses with no actual operations or by misrepresenting the business’s eligibility.” He allegedly included false information in multiple applications about payroll amounts and the number of employees. The complaint also alleges that Shibley “submitted fake tax documents and the names of purported employees” who did not work where he claimed them to work. Additionally, Shibley also failed to disclose his personal criminal history on the applications. The total amount of money Shibley sought in applying to these PPP loans is over $3 million.
The DOJ states that a criminal complaint “is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.” Shibley appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michelle L. Peterson on June 30.
The PPP was enacted under the CARES Act in March of this year. The CARES Act aims to provide “emergency financial assistance” to Americans in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. government is taking steps to fight COVID-19-related fraud. In March, Attorney General William Barr urged the public to use two new systems to report COVID-19 fraud. “This is a great first step in ensuring that no person’s health is placed at risk due to fraud and that every penny is spent by the federal government is used according to the law,” said Stephen Kohn, a whistleblower attorney and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Whistleblower Center. Individuals who have information about COVID-19 fraud should consult with a whistleblower attorney to learn their rights under the False Claims Act.