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Press Release

Owner of Area Restaurant Sentenced to the Bureau of Prisons and Ordered to Pay Restitution for Crimes Related to COVID-Relief Funds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of Illinois

PEORIA, Ill. – A Saint Augustine, Illinois man, Michael Lewis Patch, 66, of the 100 block of West Third Street, has been sentenced to 90 days in the Bureau of Prisons, five years of Supervised Release, and to pay more than $64,000 in restitution. The sentence follows Patch pleading guilty to one count of bank fraud and two counts of wire fraud in relation to COVID-Relief funds that he fraudulently obtained.   

At the sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid, the government presented evidence of the multiple efforts the Illinois Department of Revenue took to assist Patch in bringing his business, the Vernon Street Grill (“VSG”), into compliance with the taxes owed and the VSG’s expired license. These efforts included offering to help Patch with the required paperwork and to enter a modest payment plan of $20 per month. After those efforts were repeatedly ignored by Patch, a criminal investigation was opened. During that investigation, it was determined that Patch had fabricated records and data to apply for and receive two loans that were made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Specifically, Patch admitted that he used false data to steal money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Congress established PPP funds to provide small businesses with funds to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs and related expenses. Patch obtained $11,462.00 in PPP funds. The EIDL program was established to allow the Small Business Administration to provide a line of credit to small businesses that had suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Patch received $53,000 in EIDL loans. Patch applied for a third loan in the amount of $53,000 through EIDL, but that loan was not approved.

The investigation showed that Patch did not use COVID-relief funds for their intended purpose. Instead, Patch attempted to purchase property and over-paid his employees, requiring them to cash their checks and return the excess wages they received to him in the form of cash. In total, Patch fraudulently requested $117,462, and received $64,462 from the United States and its agency, the Small Business Administration.

Patch was indicted in September 2021 and pleaded guilty to all three counts of the indictment in September 2022. He was free on an existing bond, pending sentencing. Patch will voluntarily surrender to begin his sentence in October.

The statutory penalties for bank fraud are up to 30 years imprisonment, followed by 5 years of supervised release. The penalties for each count of wire fraud are up to 20 years imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

The Illinois Department of Revenue, Criminal Investigative Division, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas F. McMeyer represented the government in the prosecution.

COVID-19 disaster relief and enhanced unemployment benefits are intended to help people and businesses suffering as a result of the pandemic. If members of the public suspect anyone fraudulently obtained or misused benefits, they should contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NDCF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submit the NCDF Web Complaint Form. The NCDF is a national coordinating agency within the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division dedicated to improving the detection, prevention, investigation, and prosecution of criminal conduct related to natural and man-made disasters and other emergencies, such as the coronavirus (COVID-19). Hotline staff will obtain information regarding complaints, which will then be reviewed by law enforcement officials. More information is available at

Updated August 9, 2023

Financial Fraud