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Man scammed $4 million in COVID funds and paid for his Porsche, according to feds

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A Connecticut man has been sentenced to prison after stealing $4 million in COVID-19 relief funds earmarked for small businesses, according to prosecutors.

AP

A man tricked multiple banks into giving him more than $4 million in COVID-19 relief money and paid off a loan he used to buy a Porsche among other personal spending splurges, federal prosecutors said.

Moustapha Diakhate, 46, of Stamford, Connecticut, also bought a Mercedes and a BMW with money intended to support struggling small businesses during the pandemic, according to the Connecticut District Attorney’s Office.

“Instead, through what the defense acknowledges was simple greed, he made repeated efforts to defraud banks of far more than he could have done in a conventional bank robbery,” a court document says.

A judge sentenced Diakhate to 42 months in federal prison on Tuesday, August 16, after he swindled millions of money authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act through fraudulent loan applications, according to a press release. of the prosecution.

“He tearfully expressed his remorse and shame at the sentencing hearing,” he said. by phone Diakhate’s attorney, Jonathan Klein, told McClatchy News.

Under the CARES Act, the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), overseen by the Small Business Administration (SBA), provided eligible small businesses with necessary loans to cover “payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rents, and utilities,” the press release says. Approved private lenders, such as banks, could issue these loans.

Starting in May 2020, Diakhate included false information in PPP loan applications he provided to two banks, Citibank and M&T Bank, on behalf of six small businesses he owned or participated in, according to prosecutors. As a result, the banks lent him the COVID-19 relief money.

Through his scheme, he continued to obtain “increasingly large PPP loans” to which his businesses were not entitled and received more than $4 million, a complaint alleges.

Citibank and M&T Bank eventually uncovered the Diakhate plot and were able to recover $2 million of the funds.says the press release.

However, Diakhate had managed to steal more than $1.6 million in COVID-19 assistance, which he gave to family members and spent on luxury items along with payment for his 2010 Porsche Panamera Turbo, court documents say.

Diakhate ultimately pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and conducting an illegal monetary transaction on Jan. 26, the statement said. This occurred after his arrest in May 2021.

During the sentencing hearing, Klein told McClatchy News that several of Diakhate’s friends and family were present to support him, and six people spoke in court about him.

The judge ordered Diakhate to pay $1,702,479 in restitution, according to the prosecution. His 42-month sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release, which includes 75 hours of community service and three months of house arrest.

He was released on $450,000 bond and is due in jail Oct. 14, according to the release.

Diakhate’s plot is one of several that federal authorities have uncovered since the pandemic began. In late December, the federal Secret Service estimated that nearly $100 billion in COVID-19 relief money had been stolen across the country, according to a press release.

This story was originally published on August 19, 2022 9:22 a.m.

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