A federal jury convicted a Utah woman of committing massive fraud through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) designed to support businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.
Allison Marie Baver, a 42-year-old resident of Taylorsville, Utah, and owner of Allison Baver Entertainment LLC (ABE), was found guilty of making false statements designed to influence a bank, money laundering, and contempt. U.S. Attorney Trina A. Higgins made the announcement for the District of Utah.
According to court documents and trial evidence, Baver submitted eight fraudulent PPP loan applications on behalf of ABE to Northeast Bank and Meridian Bank on April 25 and 26, 2020. Baver requested $10 Million in PPP loan funding for each application under the pretense that ABE’s average monthly payroll was approximately $4,770,583 and that the company employed 430 people. The reality was quite different – ABE had no average monthly payroll and no employees.
The fraudulent claims by Baver led Meridian Bank to approve the requested $10 million PPP loan. Subsequently, Baver transferred $150,000 of the funds to invest in a movie, marking a clear violation of the intended use of the PPP loan.
The case was jointly investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Salt Lake City Field Office, Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG), and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI). Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Muyskens and Jamie Z. Thomas prosecuted the case.
The sentencing of Baver is scheduled for October 30, 2023, before U.S. District Court Judge Jill N. Parrish.
Since the inception of the CARES Act, the Fraud Section has prosecuted over 200 defendants in more than 130 criminal cases and seized over $78 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained PPP funds. This case underscores the severity of the penalties for fraudulent activity related to the PPP and serves as a strong deterrent for small businesses to ensure strict adherence to legal guidelines while applying for financial assistance.
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