Atlantic County Company and its owner admit taking an Irregular Paycheck Protection Program loan | USAO-NJ
NEWARK, NJ – An Atlantic County, New Jersey, construction company and one of its owners have reached a settlement agreement with the United States in which they admitted to violating the False Claims Act by taking a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan that the company did not qualify for, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said today.
According to the US admissions and assertions contained in the settlement agreement:
Congress created the PPP in March 2020, as part of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, to provide emergency financial support to millions of Americans suffering from the economic effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19. The CARES Act authorized billions of dollars in forgivable loans to small businesses struggling to pay employees and other business expenses.
Christopher Construction Company Inc. (the “Company”) and one of its owners, Dennis Christopher, applied for and obtained a PPP loan totaling $255,507. Christopher, on behalf of the company, falsely certified in the PPP application that neither the company nor any individual holding 20% or more of its capital has been subject to any indictment or other charges criminals. When he filed the application, however, Christopher knew that another owner of the company was facing a criminal charge. Christopher’s false certification on the application caused a bank to approve a PPP loan and caused the Small Business Administration (SBA) to pay a loan processing fee to the lender and guarantee the loan through the PPP.
Prior to entering into the settlement agreement, the Company repaid the balance of the PPP loan in full, releasing the SBA from any liability to the lender. The Company and Christopher have agreed to pay $53,325 in damages and civil penalties. The settlement with the company and Dennis Christopher resolves a lawsuit brought under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act, which allows private parties to sue on behalf of the United States for false allegations and to share part of the government’s recovery.
The resolution achieved in this case is the result of a coordinated effort between the United States Attorney’s Office and the Commercial Litigation Division of the Department of Justice Civil Division, Fraud Section. U.S. Attorney Sellinger also credited special agents at the SBA – Office of Inspector General, under Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney David V. Simunovich of the Government Fraud Unit in Newark.
Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Disaster Fraud Center hotline at 866-720 -5721 or through the NCDF’s online complaint form at: https://www.justice. gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
The qui tam affair is subtitled United States ex rel. Pat L. Christopher v. Christopher Construction Company, Inc., et al.Civil Action No. 20-7500 (DNJ)