ST. LOUIS – Robert Williams, 58, of St. Louis, Missouri, appeared before United States District Court Judge Matthew T. Schelp on today’s date. Based on a previous guilty plea, Williams was sentenced to 125 months in federal prison for numerous counts of bank fraud related to Payment Protection Program (“PPP”) loans.
The United States Small Business Administration (“SBA”) is an executive agency of the United States government that provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES”) is a federal law that was enacted on or about March 2020 to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering from the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the sources of relief provided by the CARES Act is the authorization of repayable loans to small businesses for the maintenance of employment and certain other expenses, through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The purpose of the loans issued under the PPP was to enable small businesses suffering from the economic downturn to continue paying wages or salaries to their employees.
To obtain a PPP loan, an eligible business must submit a PPP loan application, signed by an authorized representative of the business. The PPP loan application requires the business to acknowledge the rules of the program and make certain affirmative certifications to obtain the PPP loan.
According to court documents, Williams obtained federal loans made through the CARES Act that resulted in a loss of up to about $2.7 million. Williams applied for these loans from Midwest Regional Bank, PNC Bank and submitted false information to receive funding.
The investigation included a review of numerous PPP loan applications and financial accounts during the summer of 2020. Williams completed and submitted approximately thirty different PPP loan applications that contained materially false statements and false supporting documentation related to the ownership of a business and the payroll of the business. including number of employees and monthly payroll costs.
Investigators also determined that Williams did not use PPP loan funds for proper business expenses, but used funds for his own personal benefit, including the purchase of vehicles such as a Maserati Levante and a Jaguar. , F-Pace. Williams has also helped several other companies negotiate and submit fraudulent PPP loan applications. During the investigation, the FBI seized approximately $466,000 and vehicles. Williams also accepted a restitution order of $1,231,491.
This matter has been investigated by the US Small Business Administration and the FDIC’s Office of Inspector General, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edward Dowd III.