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Press Release

Companies pay $92,000 to settle allegations related to false statement in COVID-19 funding applications

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Buffalo Transportation Inc., Ontario Bus Inc., and several other businesses owned by Igor Finkelshtein, have agreed to pay $91,838 to resolve allegations arising under the False Claims Act. The defendants obtained grants and loans under the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), administered by the Small Business Administration, after submitting applications that falsely certified their eligibility to receive the grants and loans.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Coriell, who handled the case, stated that applicants for EIDL funding are required to disclose the criminal history of owners of entities applying for funds. The government alleges that these defendants failed to disclose that Igor Finkelshtein had a prior felony conviction, and therefore the companies were ineligible to receive grants and loans through the COVID-19 EIDL program.

“Emergency funding programs, including the COVID-19 EIDL program, were critical to helping businesses stay afloat during the pandemic,” stated U.S. Attorney Ross. “My office will continue to work towards holding accountable those who took advantage of the COVID-19 programs by obtaining funds that they were not eligible to receive.”

“Providing fraudulent information to acquire access to federal relief funds is a theft of hard-earned taxpayer money,” said Matthew Miraglia, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Buffalo Field Office. “The FBI remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate and apprehend those who seek to personally profit and defraud government assistance programs.”

The civil settlement includes the resolution of claims brought under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act by Aidan Forsyth. Under those provisions, a private party can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of any recovery. The qui tam case is captioned United States ex rel. Forsyth v. Buffalo Transportation Inc., et al., 22-cv-846-JLS (W.D.N.Y.). Mr. Forsyth will receive a share of the settlement.

The case was investigated jointly by the United States Attorney’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Buffalo Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Miraglia, and the United States Secret Service, Buffalo Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey P. Burr, as well as with assistance from the SBA’s Office of General Counsel and Office of Inspector General.

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Barbara Burns


Updated April 18, 2024

False Claims Act