EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The U.S. Attorney’s office announced Friday, a Wayne County man stands accused of pandemic fraud in the amount of $1.5 million.
The United States Attorneys Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania stated Friday, Christopher J. Miller, 35, formerly of Newfoundland, Wayne County was charged in an indictment with 54 combined counts of wire fraud, bank fraud, false statements, identity theft, and unlawful monetary transactions.
According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, the indictment alleges Miller owned and operated several “corporate entities” in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Florida. Miller allegedly filed, and helped others to file, dozens of fraudulent applications for pandemic stimulus funds, including under the Payment Protection Program (PPP), for Economic Injury and Disaster Loans (EIDLs), and for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits.
Officials say Miller was charged with 16 counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud, two counts of false loan applications, and 17 counts of making false statements to the U.S. Small Business Administration, for the fraudulent applications.
Miller is also charged with one count of aggravated identity theft, for using a stolen identity to file an application. The applications allegedly submitted by Miller were filed under corporate entities that didn’t have actual business operations, and that had false addresses, false IRS-issued Employee Identification Numbers, false dates of business establishment and operation, false employee headcount information, and fabricated gross income, gross receipts, and payroll obligation information, court papers say.
U.S. Officials say the applications also included forged IRS income tax returns and federal employment tax documents. Miller allegedly failed to disclose in the applications that he was previously convicted of a felony. Miller and his associates allegedly obtained approximately $1,500,000 in PPP, EIDL, and PUA funds after filing the fraudulent applications.
In addition to the personal funds that he received, Miller also allegedly received cash kickbacks from others he filed the fraudulent applications for. Instead of using the funds on business expenses, Miller allegedly used them to purchase vehicles, vacations, and real estate, among other personal things.
Miller is charged with 16 counts of making unlawful monetary transactions with the proceeds of his fraud.
If Miller is found guilty, the maximum penalty under federal law for the most serious charges is 30 years in prison, a term of supervised release following prison, and a fine. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory two-year sentence of imprisonment that is supposed to run consecutive to any other term of imprisonment imposed.