Seattle – A former Seattle doctor was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 4 years in prison for fraudulently seeking over $3.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) COVID-19 relief funds. Eric R. Shibley, 43, of Seattle, was convicted following a trial in November 2021. At today’s sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said the sentence was due to “the blatant nature of the fraud and its size.” Judge Coughenour also noted Shibley’s decision to testify in the case saying, “I have to say it was one of the worst performances of a criminal defendant. There was very little willingness to adhere to the truth while testifying.”
“Mr. Shibley took advantage of the community, disrupted and distraught by the pandemic, to try to enrich himself through fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “These funds were desperately needed to keep people employed by legitimate small businesses. This fraud made it tougher for those truly in need.”
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Shibley, submitted 26 fraudulent PPP applications and 13 EIDL loan applications to federally insured financial institutions, other Small Business Administration (SBA)-approved lenders, and the SBA, in the names of businesses with no actual operations or by misrepresenting the business’s eligibility. In the applications, Shibley misrepresented the number of employees and payroll expenses in several applications and concealed his own criminal history. To support the fraudulent applications, Shibley submitted fake tax documents and the names of purported employees who did not, in fact, work for the businesses for which Shibley claimed they worked. Shibley was convicted by a jury of seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of bank fraud, and five counts of money laundering.
Shibley was ordered to pay $1,438,000 in restitution. Shibley’s license to practice medicine was suspended in 2020.
“As the American people suffered from the negative economic effects of the pandemic, Mr. Shibley chose to further this suffering by stealing funds meant to help small businesses stay afloat,” said Adam Jobes, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS:CI), Seattle Field Office. “Contrary to his oath as a physician to cause no harm, Mr. Shibley caused great harm to those around him as he illegally pocketed resources meant for those who actually qualified for and needed those funds. Financial crimes are not victimless, and IRS:CI will continue to investigate and bring to justice those like Mr. Shibley who choose their own greed above the well-being of the public.”
“OIG is steadfast in our commitment to expose and bring to justice those who would seek to defraud SBA’s pandemic assistance programs,” said SBA OIG’s Special Agent in Charge Weston King. “OIG remains committed to rooting out bad actors and protecting the integrity of SBA programs. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their dedication and pursuit of justice.”
SBA-OIG, the FBI’s Seattle Field Office, FDIC-OIG, TIGTA, IRS-CI, HSI, and HHS-OIG investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Laura Connelly of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Werner of the Western District of Washington prosecuted the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Criminal Division’s prosecution of fraud schemes that exploit the PPP. Since the inception of the CARES Act, the Fraud Section has prosecuted over 167 defendants in more than 103 criminal cases and has seized over $75 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased with such proceeds. More information can be found at https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/ppp-fraud.
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.