Judge: 3 men convicted in COVID-19 relief aid fraud
Three men were convicted of defrauding the U.S. government of $7.6 million in COVID-19 relief aid meant for small businesses who were suffering during the pandemic.
Jacob Carter, brothers Anwar and Quadri Salahuddin and a handful of their supporters had stoic reactions in a federal courtroom Friday afternoon in White Plains as the jury foreperson shared guilty verdicts for all three men on all the counts.
Upon their convictions, the three men were remanded to jail while they await sentencing on May 29.
"He threw the book at them like they didn't have the right to defend themselves," said a friend of the brothers afterward. "They didn't deserve that, to be remanded until sentencing. Sentencing isn't until May. A man who's held his job for 16 years. It's ridiculous."
Prosecutors say the three men applied for more than 1,000 federal emergency business loans through the Small Business Administration in the names of more than 1,000 people.
While the loan applications were pending, the SBA advanced the applicants up to $10,000 each, per the agency's policy at the time.
The SBA offered $1,000 per employee, to applicants with ten or more employees, up to $10,000.
Prosecutors argued the applicants -- who were not legitimate business owners in need of COVID-19 relief -- then shared some of their advances with Carter and the Salahuddin brothers.
The men chose to represent themselves, but were appointed trained legal experts to advise them.
"The verdict will be challenged on appeal," John Wallenstein, an advisor to Carter, said afterward. "The evidence was less than sufficient in my opinion."
In an effort to avoid jail between their convictions and their sentencing date, the three men told the judge they have jobs, families and no plans of skipping out on sentencing.
Carter has six children.
The prosecution argued the men were flight risks, and the judge agreed.
The men were convicted of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and identity theft.
Wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud both carry maximum sentences of 20 years.
The identity theft conviction carries a minimum sentence of two years.