A Wenham man pleaded guilty last week in connection with a scheme to obtain Paycheck Protection Program funds by submitting false applications.

James Joseph Cohen, 59, pleaded guilty in Boston federal court to one count of bank fraud, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office. Cohen had been charged on June 29.

According to the statement, Cohen submitted six false applications to financial institutions and to the Small Business Administration between April 2020 and September 2021 to obtain pandemic-related relief funds on behalf of companies he controlled.

In the applications, Cohen misstated the companies’ revenues, the people employed, or the amounts paid to those employees in the 12-month period preceding the application, the statement said. In total, Cohen obtained approximately $1.2 million in pandemic relief funds based upon these false submissions.

Sentencing has been scheduled for Oct. 26.

Separately, a Brockton man agreed to plead guilty in connection with a scheme to use false applications to obtain PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program loans.

Joao Mendes, 59, was charged in Boston federal court and has agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement last week.

According to the charging documents, Mendes submitted or caused to be submitted multiple fraudulent PPP and EIDL applications on behalf of various entities beginning around June 2020 and continuing until at least September 2020.

The fraudulent PPP loan applications misrepresented the number of employees and the average monthly payroll expenses of Mendes’ various businesses, the statement said. Mendes also allegedly submitted false tax records in support of his loan applications. In his EIDL applications, Mendes allegedly misrepresented the number of employees, gross revenues and costs of goods sold for each business.

Based on these applications, Mendes and others received over $1.5 million in PPP and EIDL funds. Once Mendes received the funds, the statement said, he spent them for his own personal benefit, including for the purchase of cryptocurrency; transferred the funds into other accounts he controlled; or transferred the funds to other individuals.

Business Owners Admit to PPP Fraud

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 1 min