For most of the world, the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 marked a time to come together and have each other’s backs. For others, such as dual New York and Florida resident, Gregory Blotnick, it signaled an opportunity to try and make a quick buck.
Blotnick, 35, was sentenced to 51 months in prison via videoconference call for his role in fraudulently obtaining federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans worth more than $6.8 million. (Probably not the type of virtual meeting he wanted to start the day off with.)
According to case documents on file, as well as statements made in court, Blotnick spent 11 months between April 2020 and March 2021 submitting 21 fraudulent PPP loan applications to 13 different lenders on behalf of 9 “businesses” he allegedly controlled. (If he really wanted to develop a new hobby at the start of the pandemic, couldn’t he have just tried wood working, home craft beer brewing, or hiking?)
When the PPP was originally authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, it was intended to alleviate the burden of certain expenses on small businesses, such as payroll, rent, and utilities. Blotnick, however, seemed to think those funds could be better used elsewhere. Specifically, in brokerage accounts from which he would be able to place over $3 million in stock trades, using stolen government benefits.
Blotnick apparently has an impressive educational background, holding an MBA from Columbia Business School. However, that degree didn’t seem to serve him very well during his ruse, as he managed to lose nearly all $3 million he invested in short order. (It turns out he wasn’t very gifted in swindling or investing. All that education gone to waste.)
In addition to calling a prison cell home for the next four years, Blotnick was ordered to pay restitution of $4,577,631 – the exact amount of COVID-19 relief funds he fraudulently acquired. In May of 2021, the U.S. Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which partners with agencies across the government to bolster the fight against this type of pandemic-related fraud. (If Blotnick does learn a lesson from all of this, it will have been a costly one but fortunately, he now has the gift of time to let it all sink in.)
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “New York And Florida Resident Sentenced to 51 Months In Prison For $6.8 Million Paycheck Protection Program Fraud Scheme,” dated June 7, 2022.
NEWARK, N.J. – A dual New York and Florida resident was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for his role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans totaling over $6.8 million, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Gregory J. Blotnick, 35, of Florida, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. Judge Martinotti imposed the sentence by videoconference today.