Stoughton Man Pleads Guilty to $400,000 COVID-Relief Fraud Scheme
BOSTON – A Stoughton man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with filing a fraudulent loan application in order to obtain over $400,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds.
Adley Bernadin, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud before U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani who scheduled sentencing for Sept. 28, 2022. Bernadin was arrested and charged on March 17, 2022.
In May 2020, Bernadin submitted a fraudulent application on behalf of a purported home health care company for a PPP loan of over $400,000. In the application, which he submitted through a Small Business Administration approved lender, Bernadin misrepresented information about the purported home health care company’s employees and payroll expenses and falsified a tax form in an effort to qualify the business for the PPP loan. For example, Bernadin reported that the purported home health care business had a monthly payroll of $175,200, which was false.
After receiving the PPP funds, Bernadin did not use money for the purported home health care company’s business. Instead, he made mortgage payments on his home and wrote checks to individuals with whom he had a personal relationship.
The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain approved expenses, through the PPP.
The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the scheme, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and William A. Kalb, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Northeast Field Division made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin A. Saltzman of Rollins’ Criminal Division and Raquelle Kaye of Rollins’ Asset Recovery Unit are prosecuting the case.
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.