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Lebanon man pleads guilty in COVID relief scam
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Lebanon man pleads guilty in COVID relief scam

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mark hatfield courthouse

The Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland.

PORTLAND — A Lebanon man has pleaded guilty to pocketing millions of dollars in COVID relief funds and is facing more than five years in federal prison.

Andrew Aaron Lloyd, 51, admitted to bank fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft and agreed with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on a prison term of 61 months. He will be sentenced Sept. 9 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane.

A second defendant, Russell Anthony Schort, 38, of Myrtle Creek also has been charged. He is scheduled to enter a guilty plea July 1.

Lloyd took advantage of economic relief programs including Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). These programs were authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act provided emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans and small businesses suffering from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“CARES Act relief programs were designed to help American small businesses weather a historically difficult time in our nation’s economic history," said Scott Erik Asphaug, acting U.S. Attorney. "Andrew Lloyd saw an opportunity to profit off the COVID-19 pandemic and did so at the expense of hardworking Americans. Our office will continue to investigate and prosecute anyone who seeks to unfairly enrich themselves from public funds set aside to help those in need.” 

According to court documents and a press release from Asphaug, here is a look at the complicated scheme of Lloyd and Schort.

In October 2020, federal agents initiated an investigation into Lloyd based on information suggesting he had fraudulently applied for PPP loans and EIDL at multiple financial institutions. Beginning in April 2020, Lloyd began submitting loan applications using numerous business names and personally identifiable information of relatives and business associates without their consent.

Lloyd submitted false documentation to justify the loan amounts requested, including an IRS Form 944 listing the 2019 wages purportedly paid by entities controlled by Lloyd. Total wages allegedly paid by these entities ranged from $3 million to more than $4.7 million.

In total, Lloyd submitted nine PPP loan applications, six of which were accepted, resulting in a payout of more than $3.4 million. Lloyd also applied for numerous EIDLs, of which one was accepted, resulting in an additional $160,000 in payments to Lloyd. Upon receipt of the funds, Lloyd purchased real estate and invested in securities. Lloyd transferred more than $1.8 million of the above-described PPP loan funds to his brokerage account. Securities Lloyd purchased using the fraudulently acquired funds substantially increased in value.

In January 2021, agents seized Lloyd’s brokerage account, which included 15,740 shares of Tesla stock purchased with proceeds of his fraud. In March 2021, agents seized another account containing more than $660,000 in securities and cash. The securities and cash seized from Lloyd’s accounts are presently valued at more than $11 million.

He was arrested and made his first appearance in federal court on Jan. 7. On June 6 he was charged with bank fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft.

As part of his plea agreement, Lloyd has agreed to pay more than $3.6 million in restitution to the U.S. Treasury. Lloyd also agreed to forfeit more than $11 million in cash and securities and 23 properties that were purchased with PPP funds.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@lee.net or 541-812-6116. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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