Criminal JusticeFederalIssuesEast Texas Man Gets 68-Month Sentence for Swindling COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program included hundreds of billions of dollars in loans for small businesses amid the pandemic restrictions.
September 8, 2022
A federal judge sentenced a 35-year-old man from Bowie County to 68 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced in a news release that Judge Robert W. Schroeder sentenced Samuel Yates on Tuesday. He pleaded guilty to a charge of wire fraud on May 6 this year after being charged in 2020.

According to prosecutors, Yates submitted two bogus applications to the Small Business Administration and filed sham tax documents.

Yates claimed to have 400 employees with a payroll of more than $2 million each month in the first application. In the second fraudulent document, he claimed to have 100 employees. He used a “random name generator” on the internet to create names for his fictional employees, per the DOJ.

While Yates was able to acquire a loan for $500,000 with the second application, he had asked for $5 million in the first, the DOJ explained.

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Schroeder also ordered Yates to pay more than $1 million in “monetary penalties for restitution and forfeiture.”

U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston commented that “protecting taxpayer dollars” is among his office’s “highest priorities.”

“Government programs are designed to assist our citizens in their time of need and are done by following established protocols to ensure the money is properly disbursed and accounted for,” Featherston said. “Yates chose to steal from those most in need of assistance and is now being punished for his actions.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, government officials faced criticism for stay-at-home orders, business capacity restrictions, and other heavy-handed policies that contributed to economic stress.

The DOJ stated that the CARES Act provided $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses and other entities for “job retention and certain other expenses.” Congress approved another $300 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program in April 2020.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."