Centennial man sentenced to federal prison for COVID-related fraud | USAO-CO
Colorado District Attorney’s Office announces that Anthony Zaghab, 52, of Centennial, Colorado, has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for wire fraud based on his submission of numerous bogus claims for relief funds linked to COVID. Zaghab was also ordered to pay $ 708,141 in restitution.
According to the plea agreement, starting in April 2020 and running until early February 2021, Zaghab knowingly engaged in a scheme to defraud the United States, the state of Colorado and a bank to obtain funds. pandemic relief to which it was not titled. He did this by submitting bogus and fraudulent economic disaster loan (EIDL) and paycheck protection program (PPP) applications to the Small Business Administration and a bank. From these SBA programs, Zaghab got $ 666,630. He also claimed and received $ 41,511 in Colorado state pandemic unemployment insurance payments for ineligible family members.
Regarding the bogus EIDL claims, Zaghab falsely stated the number of employees, the alleged gross income and the alleged cost of goods sold for certain business entities under his name. Zaghab also sought and attempted to obtain EIDL on behalf of fictitious or purported business entities created on behalf of his family members without the knowledge or consent of those family members. Zaghab falsely stated that the funds would be used to pay the payroll and other authorized expenses when in fact Zaghab used the majority of these products for his personal benefit.
In addition to EIDL’s fraudulent applications, Zaghab submitted four fraudulent PPP loan applications to a bank. All four PPP loan applications have been approved and funded. In these applications, Zaghab falsely indicated when the alleged businesses were established and the monthly payroll of each fictitious entity. Zaghab obtained a total of $ 83,330 in P3 loan products based on these false claims, which he used for his personal benefit instead of paying authorized expenses like payroll.
Zaghab also applied for and obtained approximately $ 41,511 in Colorado Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for ineligible family members without their knowledge and consent. Specifically, in April 2020, Zaghab applied for and was granted a PUA for his sister and mother, both of whom resided outside of the United States. Zaghab submitted these requests without the knowledge of his sister or mother and used the money for his personal benefit. In or around April 2020, Zaghab also applied for and obtained a PUA for her father who is and had died at the time of the application.
âThe pandemic relief funds were supposed to be used to save small businesses and support those devastated by COVID-19,â said US Attorney Cole Finegan. âTogether with our law enforcement partners, we hold criminals accountable for stealing US taxpayer generosity. “
“This prison sentence and restitution order should have a strong deterrent effect on COVID-19 fraud,” said Marc DellaSala, special agent in charge of the US Secret Service field office in Denver. âWe will vigorously prosecute anyone who steals government assistance programs for small businesses and struggling families. I would like to thank the United States Attorney’s Office and our Pandemic Fraud Task Force partners for their continued dedication to protecting the financial infrastructure of the United States. “
âToday’s conviction in the Zaghad fraud case is an example of how the statewide task force we established earlier this year works. Together with our state and federal partners, we are investigating and prosecuting those who have committed fraud against the state’s unemployment insurance program and the identity theft that has affected thousands of Coloradans during the pandemic. Our work continues, and when the perpetrators can be identified, we will hold them accountable, âColorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said.
“Program integrity has been and will continue to be a goal of the Unemployment Insurance division, ensuring that those who engage in fraud under the program are brought to justice and stolen funds recovered,” said Phil Spesshardt, director of the Colorado unemployment insurance division.
United States District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson sentenced Zaghab on December 15, 2021.
The United States Secret Service and the Colorado Department of Labor and Law Enforcement investigated. Deputy prosecutors for the United States, Martha A. Paluch and Rebecca S. Weber, handled the prosecution of the case.
File number: 21-cr-0188
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