Michigan Man Sentenced for COVID-19 Relief Fraud
A Michigan man was sentenced today to 32 months in federal prison for fraudulently seeking nearly $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Michael Bischoff, 60, of Macomb County, pleaded guilty to bank fraud on Nov. 23, 2020, in the Eastern District of Michigan. According to court documents, Bischoff, who owned multiple pizza restaurants in Macomb County, admitted to defrauding several financial institutions by submitting at least nine falsified PPP loan applications that included false representations about payroll, business expenses, and the number of employees working at his restaurants. To help secure the PPP loans, Bischoff also submitted multiple fabricated tax documents and fraudulently used another person’s personal identifying information. In total, Bischoff fraudulently sought approximately $931,000 in COVID-19 relief funds and received approximately $593,590. In addition to his prison sentence, Bischoff was ordered to serve three years of supervised release, and to pay $593,590 in restitution and a $5,000 fine.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Shafiq Mohsin of the Eastern District of Michigan; Special Agent in Charge Kathy A. Enstrom of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG); Special Agent in Charge Sharon Johnson of the SBA’s Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG) Central Region; and Special Agent in Charge Douglas Zloto of the U.S. Secret Service’s Detroit Field Office made the announcement.
The FDIC-OIG, the SBA-OIG, and the Secret Service investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Philip B. Trout of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section; Trial Attorney Chad M. Davis of Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section; and Assistant U.S. Attorney John K. Neal of the Eastern District of Michigan prosecuted the case.
The Fraud Section leads the department’s prosecution of fraud schemes that exploit the PPP. Since the PPP began, Fraud Section attorneys have prosecuted more than 100 defendants in more than 70 criminal cases. The Fraud Section has also seized more than $65 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased with such proceeds. More information can be found at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/ppp-fraud.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.