Colorado man sentenced for using COVID relief funds for plastic surgery, weight loss and jewelry

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (KKTV) – The U.S. District Attorney’s Office for Colorado said Daniel Stonebarger, 50, of Highlands Ranch, was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison.

Officials say that between April 5, 2020 and June 10, 2020, Stonebarger submitted multiple “fraudulent applications for Economic Disaster Loans and Grants (EIDL and EIDG) and Paycheck Protection Program loans ( PPP) through the Small Business Administration”. In total, he got $855,252.50 in funds.”

He also applied for Colorado Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and was paid $28,142 by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE).

Stonebarger used new and existing names to apply for the loans “and falsified company founding dates, number of employees, revenues and costs.” In a press release, the officials state that “the defendant used these funds to pay for, among other things, a relative’s plastic surgery, a weight loss program, wedding expenses, jewelry, a platoon, travel and resort expenses”.

“This defendant took money that was supposed to be used to provide emergency financial assistance to small businesses and individuals suffering from the negative economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prosecuting pandemic fraud is a Justice Department priority and an ongoing priority for investigators here in Colorado,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan.

“This defendant was a criminal opportunist who took advantage of what he considered easy money through programs created to keep businesses afloat during the pandemic,” the FBI Special Agent in Charge in Denver said. , Michael Schneider. “This result reminds us that the FBI aggressively pursues those who attempt to defraud the federal government.”

“We continue to pursue those who exploit taxpayer-funded assistance programs for their own illicit gain,” said Marc DellaSala, special agent in charge of the US Secret Service field office in Denver. “With partners from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, our unified law enforcement community has taken unprecedented steps to identify, locate and arrest those responsible for pandemic-related fraud. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their tireless support of these efforts.

“We created the Colorado Unemployment Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute those who steal critical pandemic-related government funds for personal gain. I am grateful and proud of the collaboration between the task force and the U.S. Attorney’s Office that allowed us to bring this defendant to justice for defrauding the government. When the public is deceived, we are all deceived and we will continue to hold fraudsters accountable,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said.

In addition to Stonebargers’ prison sentence, he will serve three years of probation, pay $794,462.08 in restitution to the SBA and $28,142 to the CDLE. The Court also rendered a forfeiture judgment in the amount of $822,794.50.

Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline through the NCDF’s online complaint form.

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