ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis man was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison after he admitted to misusing Payment Protection Program loans intended to help small businesses through the pandemic.
Robert Williams, 58, was sentenced to 125 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to numerous counts of bank fraud.
According to a press release from Sayler Flemming, the U.S. Attorney for the eastern district of Missouri, Williams submitted about 30 different PPP loan applications with false information.
According to court documents, he received about $2.7 million in loans. The press release said he used the money to buy a Maserati Levante and a Jaguar F-Pace as well as other personal purchases.
When he was arrested, FBI investigators seized more than $400,000 as well as multiple vehicles.
Court documents said Williams also helped other businesses file false applications.
In addition to his 125-month prison sentence, Williams agreed to an order of restitution for $1,231,491.
In December, the U.S. Secret Service said nearly $100 billion at minimum has been stolen from COVID-19 relief programs set up to help businesses and people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
The estimate was based on Secret Service cases and data from the Labor Department and the Small Business Administration, said Roy Dotson, the agency's national pandemic fraud recovery coordinator, in an interview. The Secret Service didn't include COVID-19 fraud cases prosecuted by the Justice Department.
While roughly 3% of the $3.4 trillion dispersed, the amount stolen from pandemic benefits programs shows “the sheer size of the pot is enticing to the criminals,” Dotson said.