Trucking Company Employee Pleads Guilty to PPP Loan Application Fraud

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SALT LAKE CITY – Lisa Bradshaw Rowberry, 49, of Provo, pleaded guilty for her role in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan fraud scheme last week in federal court. Rowberry pleaded guilty to loan application fraud for unlawfully obtaining a federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan for the Frisbu trucking company, where she was employed by the owner of the company and co-defendant, Hubert Ivan Ugarte. Ugarte pleaded guilty to PPP loan fraud and federal bribery charges involving the FedEx Ground Hub in federal court last month.

According to the plea agreement, Rowberry admitted to submitting a fraudulent loan application to Transportation Alliance Bank in Ogden, Utah, for PPP loans authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and that she fraudulently obtained $210,000 in PPP loans for Frisbu after failing to disclose on the loan application that Ugarte was under federal indictment for his role in a bribery scheme involving the FedEx Ground Hub. Rowberry stated that she first met Ugarte while working as Branch Manager at a U.S. Bank branch in Utah where Ugarte was a customer, and that when she went to work for Ugarte, she was aware that he was under federal indictment for his role in a FedEx Ground Hub bribery scheme that occurred in Utah.

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The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans suffering from the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses through the PPP. In April 2020, Congress authorized more than $300 billion in additional PPP funding, and Congress again authorized more than 284 billion in Additional PPP funding in 2021.

PPP loan proceeds must be used by businesses on payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. The PPP allows the interest and principal on the PPP loan to be entirely forgiven if the business spends the loan proceeds on these expense items within a designated period of time after receiving the proceeds and uses a certain amount of the PPP loan proceeds on payroll expenses.

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Sentencing is set for July 7,2021 for Rowberry and on June 3, 2021 for Ugarte.