A Winchester man was found guilty of filing fraudulent loan applications seeking up to $ 13 million in federal COVID-19 assistance provided to help small businesses survive the pandemic, according to U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins’ office.
Elijah Majak Buoi, 40, was convicted Thursday of four counts of fraud and one of making a false statement to a financial institution following a three-day trial, Rollins’ office said in a statement.
The case was the “first lawsuit on pandemic fraud ever,” Rollins’ office said.
Buoi got arrested in June 2020 and indicted by a grand jury a month later, the statement said.
Buoi filed six fraudulent loan applications to four different SBA-approved lenders on behalf of its firm, Sosuda Tech, LLC, between April 2020 and June 2020, the statement said. In each application, Buoi provided a forged statement of the number of employees in the company. Buoi also submitted fraudulent tax forms from the IRS in support of its applications.
Sosuda Tech was a start-up company with no U.S.-based employees and no U.S.-based payrolls, prosecutors said.
Buoi was able to obtain a loan of $ 2 million as a result of its scheme, the statement said. The government later got $ 1.97 million back of the money.
The loans Buoi applied for were intended for small businesses to help with “job retention and certain other expenses” through the Paycheck Protection Program, which was adopted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act in March 2020, according to the statement.
Buoi risks up to 20 years in prison for each charge of wire fraud and up to 30 years for the charge of making a false statement to a financial institution. His verdict is scheduled for June 16, the statement said.