A Florida man has pleaded guilty to defrauding the government of $4.6 million in PPP loans.
In New Jersey, a Florida man pled guilty to federal charges after fraudulently obtaining more than $4.6 million in Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans.
According to court records, Gregory J. Blotnick, 34, of West Palm Beach and formerly of New York City, filed 21 false PPP loan applications to 13 different lenders for at least nine firms he managed.
“During the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, Mr. Blotnick regularly took advantage of a system intended to provide lifelines to small businesses and their employees,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance noted in an April news release after Blotnick was initially indicted.
Blotnick sought for more than $6.8 million in total PPP loans and received more than half of his requests by falsifying information such as the number of his employees, federal tax filings for his firms, and payroll proof.
According to court filings, the Florida man subsequently laundered and misused the loans by transferring the funds to brokerage accounts he controlled to buy more than $3 million in lost stock bets.
In a May statement, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig for the District of New Jersey said, “The Justice Department and its law enforcement partners remain dedicated to aggressively pursuing and holding accountable scammers who exploit COVID-19 assistance programs like a personal piggy bank.”
Blotnick admitted to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in his plea agreement. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 1, 2022, and faces up to 30 years in jail, although the sentence will be decided by a federal district court judge.
In addition to the federal allegations, the former hedge fund manager was charged with 33 counts of grand larceny and fraud in a New York County Criminal Court for attempting to steal government funds. Blotnick pled not guilty in July and was ordered imprisoned on a $500,000 cash bail, which his lawyers said he couldn’t afford.
Prosecutors claimed at the time that the higher bond was necessary because Blotnick reportedly attempted to flee the country and was considered a flight risk.
Blotnick’s lawyer, Jason Berland, requested leniency, claiming that his client had recently completed a substance abuse program, was on medication for bipolar disorder, and was destitute.
“The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners remain committed to pursuing and. This is a condensed version of the information.