THURSDAY 6/3/2021 6:46 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Pewaukee businessman has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison for fraudulently obtaining more than $1 million in federal coronavirus relief funding meant for struggling businesses.

Prosecutors say 47-year-old Thomas Smith involved seven other people, including his brother, in a scheme to get federal funding for phantom companies.

U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig told Smith Wednesday that he hopes a 57-month prison sentence and two years of supervision would let him get back on track as a contributing member of society.

Ludwig also ordered Smith to repay the money he obtained through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which offered businesses forgivable loans if used for payroll, rent and other specific expenses.

ORIGINAL: Wisconsin man pleads guilty for COVID-Relief fraud scheme

TUESDAY 2/23/2021 1:48 p.m.

(WFRV) – A Wisconsin man fraudulently obtained over $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

According to authorities, 46-year-old Thomas Smith from Pewaukee pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and will be sentenced on June 2.

As a part of his plea, Smith admitted that he sought over $1.2 million in PPP loans through applications on behalf of eight different companies. Smith had multiple loan applications to be submitted that had false and misleading statements about the companies’ payroll expenses. Smith directed his co-conspirators to send him portions of the PPP funds after the companies received them.

Smith admitted that he used the proceeds for his own personal expenses.

The PPP allows qualifying small businesses and other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1%. PPP loan proceeds must be used by businesses for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

Acting U.S. Attorney Richard G. Frohling of the Eastern District of Wisconsin was part of the group that made the announcement.

Frohling recently took over for Matthew Krueger, after Krueger announced his resignation.