A South Thomaston man was sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison earlier this week for fraudulently obtaining over $1 million in COVID-era relief funds as part of a bank fraud scheme.
At a federal court in Portland Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen sentenced Mark X. Haley II, 43, to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, after a guilty plea by Haley in February of this year.
He was also ordered to pay $1,010,581 in restitution — the amount of money he succeeded in fraudulently obtaining under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) meant to help businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of the end of the PPP in May 2021, the federal government had approved nearly 12 million loans, totaling almost $800 billion dollars.
By October of last year, 96 percent of the total PPP loan value had been forgiven — over $755 billion.
Haley obtained the pandemic relief funds by listing false employee and payroll information on PPP applications, and submitting fraudulent documents to support the false information to banks, according to court records.
The fraudulent documents included fake tax returns, fake timesheets, and falsified bank records.
Over an 11-month period, Haley submitted 12 such fraudulent applications to three separate lenders, attempting to steal a total of nearly $1.5 million.
Haley used some of the fraudulently obtained PPP funds to make a down payment on a sailboat, which he later claimed was itself a functioning business with multiple employees in an attempt to steal more funds from the program.
“Mark Haley exploited a worldwide epidemic to enrich himself through fraud,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine Darcie N. McElwee. “This was a prolonged and opportunistic scheme motivated by sheer greed that only ended when the program meant to help businesses survive the pandemic itself ended.”
“The Department of Justice and my office will continue to pursue those, like Mr. Haley, who attempted to capitalize on an unprecedented crisis,” McElwee said.