June 25, 2024

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Two residents of Long Island were handed their sentences on Wednesday at the federal court in Central Islip for scheming to perpetrate wire fraud during their quest to receive around $770,000 as part of the small business loans disbursed under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDLP).

Arthur Cornwall, an erstwhile signal maintainer at the New York City Transit Authority from West Babylon, alongside Sean Williams, a former New York State court officer based in Valley Stream, confessed to all charges and were sentenced to prison for 18 months. They have also been ordered to repay the U.S. Small Business Administration – a sum totalling $770,000.

“Misusing public benefits schemes will not be overlooked, especially when individuals in public service roles are the culprits. The passage of time since the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic won’t make us forget it,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace in a press statement.

Peace added, “They dishonestly took relief money even though they already had well-paying jobs with decent benefits, using the stolen funds to buy property and cryptocurrency as well as pay off credit card bills, and they fully deserve jail time. Our office, alongside our agency partners, will persistently work towards bringing such scam artists who exploit national emergencies to justice and recoup every single dollar stolen from the government.”

Authorities reveal that between May 2020 and July 2020, during the pandemic, both Cornwall and Williams lodged fraudulent applications to get at least six PPP and EIDLP loans, fronting alleged business entities they controlled. To deceive the SBA and a financial institution that was releasing the funds, they submitted supporting documents that contained fake data, including the identity of the loan applicant, payrolls costs, projected usage of the loan proceeds, number of employees, and revenue, according to authorities.

The funds meant for disaster relief were instead misappropriated for personal use by Cornwall and Williams, paying off personal credit card debts and buying cryptocurrency among other purposes, officials report. Following their admission of guilt, the defendants relinquished their respective positions in government.