Arkansas man gets 2 years in prison for virus fraud | Oklahoma News
TULSA, Oklahoma (AP) – A former Walmart manager has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for fraudulently seeking more than $ 8 million in small business loans intended to alleviate coronavirus in Oklahoma.
Authorities in Tulsa said Benjamin Hayford, 32, had applied for forgivable loans from the Paycheck Protection Program guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
Hayford, of Centerton, Arkansas, was a senior executive, global technology operations and portfolio at Walmart. He visited numerous banks, providing lenders with false documents to cover salary expenses that did not exist, according to the US Department of Justice.
Under the CARES Act, small businesses struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic have secured forgivable loans for job maintenance and other expenses under the Paycheck Protection Program. The program enabled small businesses and other eligible organizations to receive loans with a two-year term and an interest rate of 1%.
Hayward told a financial institution he established the limited liability company he needed relief from in January and has been operating since February. But an investigation of his emails showed he had only created the partnership in April, days before he started applying for the loans.
Hayford pleaded guilty in August to one count of bank fraud and four counts of misrepresenting a financial institution. He admitted to claiming bogus salary expenses by providing fraudulent payroll documents to several banks, including one in Tulsa.
US Attorney Trent Shores denounced Hayward’s actions.
“Benjamin Hayford, and those like him, seek to enrich themselves at the expense of others in need in these uncertain times,” Shores said in a press release. “All over the United States, these fraudsters are being brought to justice. “
The West Arkansas District Attorney’s Office assisted authorities in Oklahoma in this case.
Hayford’s two-year prison sentence will be followed by five years of supervised release, according to the Justice Department.
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