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Press Release

Bedford County Man Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia
Emmett Staton Claimed Fake Businesses in Relation to Paycheck Protection Program

LYNCHBURG, Va. – A Forest, Virginia man, who falsely obtained a $25,000 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan in 2021, pleaded guilty last week in federal court to wire fraud.

Emmett Rudell Staton waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty to a one-count Information charging him with wire fraud. At sentencing, Staton faces up to twenty years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was a COVID-19 pandemic relief program administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) that provided forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses.

According to court documents, on January 21, 2021, Staton submitted an application for a $25,000 loan through the PPP for a lawncare business he purported to own. On the application, Staton falsely certified that the business had not permanently closed when in actuality he had never operated such a business. In his application, Staton also falsely claimed the business had four employees and an average monthly payroll of $10,000. Although he stated that the loan would be used only for authorized purposes, Staton instead used the loan proceeds for personal expenses, including significant online gambling expenditures.

In addition, Staton caused a second PPP loan application to be submitted in January 2021 using the name of another individual who was purported to be the owner of a daycare business. The application sought $14,000 in PPP funds to cover its three employees and average monthly payroll of $5,600 when, in fact, no such daycare business existed.

United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh and Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division, made the announcement.

The FBI investigated the case, and the Office of the United States Bankruptcy Trustee referred the case to the United States Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Baudinet is prosecuting the case

Updated July 12, 2023