He Fraudulently Claimed Coronavirus Relief Funds, Then Faked His Suicide To Avoid Prosecution. Now He’s Agreed To Plead Guilty.

 A Massachusetts man accused of fraudulently applying for hundreds of thousands of dollars in coronavirus relief bills and then faking suicide to avoid prosecution has agreed to plead guilty to some of the charges against him.

The Associated Press reported that David Staveley, 53, “will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and failure to appear in court charges, according to documents filed Thursday in federal court in Rhode Island.” In exchange for pleading guilty, federal prosecutors will dismiss several charges against him, including bank fraud, making false statements, and aggravated identity theft.

As the AP reported, Staveley applied for nearly $440,000 in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a program intended to provide funds to businesses struggling due to government-imposed coronavirus restrictions. Staveley claimed in his applications that he had “needed to pay dozens of employees at two restaurants he owned in Rhode Island and a third he owned in Massachusetts,” the outlet reported. Two of those restaurants, however, weren’t even open before the pandemic hit, so they had no employees. Staveley also didn’t have an ownership stake in the third restaurant, prosecutors said when the charges were brought against him last year.

More from the AP:

Staveley and another man, David Butziger, 52, of Warwick, were the first people in the nation charged with making phony applications for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, officials said at the time.

Butziger pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud in September and faces sentencing in June.

Staveley initially had pleaded not guilty and was released to home confinement, but last May 26, he removed his GPS monitor and disappeared, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

His vehicle was found near a beach in Quincy, Massachusetts. The vehicle was unlocked with the key in the ignition, and his wallet, credit cards, driver’s license and a suicide note were found in the car, authorities said.

No evidence was found that he had taken his own life, and marshals concluded that Staveley faked his death to avoid prosecution.

Staveley fled to Tennessee to avoid prosecution, the AP reported. He then traveled to Georgia, where he is accused of using a fake identity and driving a vehicle with stolen plates. He was finally arrested last July in Alpharetta, Georgia. Authorities discovered “multiple forms of identification bearing different names” the AP reported.

Others also have been charged with defrauding the PPP, including a D.C. pastor who use coronavirus relief funds to buy 39 cars, including a Tesla, and a house, The Daily Wire previously reported. Rudolph Brooks Jr. was charged with federal wire fraud for falsifying documents relating to his application for more than $1 million in funds.

Brooks is not the only person who defrauded the coronavirus relief programs. As The Daily Wire reported in September, others used funds to purchase Rolex watches, Rolls Royces, and other luxury items. The Daily Wire also reported in late December on numerous other frauds and scams related to PPP loans. 

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