A man who served as the founding pastor of a Maryland religious congregation face up to 20 years in prison after being accused of fraud in a scheme involving government programs that were designed to provide economic relief.
According to authorities, the man used false documents to convince officials to loan his business millions of dollars. The loans came from the well-known Paycheck Protection Program and another federal program.
After obtaining the funds officials say that the pastor used it to make several high-dollar personal purchases, including almost 40 cars, some of which were luxury vehicles.
White collar offenses can lead to long jail sentences
Some people might think of financial and property crimes as not terribly serious since no one gets physically hurt.
However, prosecutors, police and courts take white collar crime seriously, and they will not hesitate to pursue sentences that can include years in jail and other penalties. In some cases, restitution may be ordered, and it can take years to pay back what a person was accused of taking.
This is one reason why it is so important for people who are taking advantage of any government program to make sure that they are following instructions and giving accurate information to the government.
However, this is not always as easy as it may seem.
Filing out requests for government-backed loans or other assistance can be a complicated process, and this means that honest mistakes can happen.
Overzealous government officials can easily interpret mistakes, as well as simple carelessness or sloppiness, as evidence of fraud or other criminal activity.
Marylanders and others who are accused of white collar crimes like fraud should evaluate their legal options carefully before deciding on the best course of action.