Houstonian convicted in scheme linked to Hurricane Harvey
HOUSTON ‐ A Houston area man has entered a guilty plea to money laundering in connection with his scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration (SBA), announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Robert Kaitho, 56, entered his guilty plea today before U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen.
Kaitho applied for government assistance in reference to property damage sustained in Hurricane Harvey. In that application, he falsely represented to the SBA that he would use the disbursed funds to rehabilitate or replace the affected property.
As a result of his misrepresentations, the SBA disbursed a federally-funded disaster loan to Kaitho for $71,100, all of which was deposited into his personal bank account.
As part of his plea, Kaitho admitted he used the SBA funds to make unauthorized wire transfer payments, in the amounts of $10,000 and $15,000, to a mortgage company. Kaitho also acknowledged he used funds transferred into his account to make a $30,633.00 wire transfer payment to an individual located in Kenya, another unauthorized expenditure.
Judge Hanen accepted the plea today and set sentencing for June 1. At that time, Kaitho faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 maximum possible fine. Kaitho was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
SBA - Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Department of Homeland Security – OIG conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Day and Charmaine Holder are prosecuting the case.