A federal jury recently convicted a Colorado physician for fraudulently receiving around $250,000 from two separate Covid-19 relief programs.
Physician Convicted on PPP Loan Fraud, COVID Relief Charges
Court documents at the trial of Dr. Francis F. Joseph, 57, showed that he applied for and received the government funds from both the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). As well as fraudulently receiving the funds, Dr. Joseph used the money to pay for his own personal expenses.
Terminated Doctor Files False Bankruptcy
Dr. Joseph worked as a medical doctor for over 32 years having graduated with his medical degree in 1989, according to local news reports. The indictment of his original charge revealed that he specialized in family medicine, but was terminated from the clinic where he practiced. He then applied for the PPP loan on behalf of the clinic despite being terminated, and transferred the funds into his personal account.
Dr. Joseph was originally charged with three counts of fraud, though the jury acquitted him of one of the charges. The original indictment also alleged that he filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the clinic without the knowledge of its owners, submitting documents containing false statements about the clinic’s funds.
The doctor’s ill-gotten gains were allegedly spent on travel and home improvements among other things, according to the original indictment.
Fraud Section Gets Its Man
The Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division have made many great efforts to combat fraud related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Joseph’s conviction was announced by Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. Also helping announce the conviction were Special Agent in Charge Curt Muller of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and Special Agent in Charge Weston King of the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General.
A statement related to the case published on the Department of Justice website said: “Since the CARES Act passed, Fraud Section attorneys have prosecuted more than 200 defendants in more than 130 criminal cases related to CARES Act programs and funds. The Fraud Section has also seized more than $80 million in cash proceeds derived from CARES Act-related fraud schemes, as well as numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased with such proceeds.”
Sentencing Date Yet to be Set
Dr. Joseph’s official conviction is for ‘theft in connection with healthcare and wire fraud’, and he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the wire-fraud count. A sentencing date has not yet been set, but the federal district court judge will decide the sentence with consideration to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
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