August 15, 2022

Starkville man sentenced over $6 million in PPP fraud

Therese Apel

Money. Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

A Starkville man was sentenced on Friday to 6.5 years in prison for more than $6 million in Paycheck Protection Program fraud.

According to court documents, Christopher Paul Lick, 46, devised a scheme to defraud, and to obtain PPP funds, by filing false and fraudulent loan applications with banks providing loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program. Lick admitted to overstating the number of employees and payroll expenses of his purported businesses to receive PPP funds.

Rather than use the PPP funds for his businesses, Lick admitted to purchasing a home valued at more than $1 million and to using the PPP funds for personal investments in the stock market. After hearing statements from Lick, his attorney and the prosecutor at a sentencing hearing on Friday, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Glen H. Davidson sentenced Lick to prison for his crimes.

“The sentence imposed in this case was well deserved. For more than two years, the defendant was living lavishly on taxpayer dollars while millions of Americans were struggling during the pandemic,” said United States Attorney Clay Joyner. “Those, like the defendant, who chose to abuse the system at the expense of their fellow citizens are rightly punished. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to pursuing those who committed PPP and EIDL loan fraud. With the President recently extending the statute of limitations for PPP fraud to 10 years, we expect to see many more defendants like Chris Lick brought to justice.”

“Mr. Christopher Lick took very proactive steps to defraud the U. S. Government and the citizens of this nation,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby. “The Paycheck Protection Program and similar programs were established to mitigate the negative impact upon business owners during the unfortunate and uncertain times ignited by the pandemic. Those who erroneously apply for and receive these benefits deprive the government to truly serve those in need. The FBI is committed to continued collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s office in bringing those who commit fraud to justice.”

The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Philip Levy and Sam Wright prosecuted the case.

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