ANCHORAGE – An Anchorage businessman has entered into a global resolution with the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Alaska to resolve federal investigations into his fraudulently obtaining $164,000 in small business loans and advances under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The global resolution includes a criminal non-prosecution agreement and civil settlement agreement.
According to the settlement documents, Robert Gross, 65, submitted fraudulent and misleading information to obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) loans and advances, a source of relief under the CARES Act. While applying for the EIDL program between April 6 and September 3, 2020, Gross made false statements about the revenue, number of employees and related wages of the six entities in which he had ownership interests, specifically:
- Glacier State Services, Inc.
- Bistro IT, LLC
- RB Enterprises, LLC
- Meritage Management Co.
- AK Denali Group, LLC
- 32 Mile Investments, LLC.
As part of the criminal non-prosecution agreement, Gross admitted making fraudulent statements and agreed to terms in lieu of criminal prosecution. In the civil settlement agreement, Gross agreed to repay the loans in full, plus damages in the amount of $242,990 to the United States.
“During a global pandemic, the defendant took advantage of aid programs designed as a lifeline providing critical relief for hardworking people in our communities impacted by COVID,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Wilson, District of Alaska. “Our office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable individuals who exploit the CARES Act.”
“Making false statements to fraudulently gain access to SBA program funds is deplorable,” said SBA Office of Inspector General’s Western Region Special Agent in Charge Weston King. “SBA OIG will relentlessly pursue evidence of fraud against SBA’s programs aimed at assisting the nation’s small businesses struggling with the pandemic challenges. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for its leadership and dedication to pursuing justice.”
“While small businesses across the nation, including here in Alaska, continue to suffer due to the ongoing pandemic, the defendant chose to exploit the relief programs designed to help businesses in time of need,” said Special Agent in Charge Antony Jung of the FBI Anchorage Field Office. “The FBI and our federal partners will continue to work closely to detect and hold accountable those who take advantage of public health emergencies.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Office of Inspector General, Western Regional Office investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Fonstad and Michael Heyman prosecuted the case.
Anyone with information about attempted fraud involving COVID-Relief can report it to the Department of Justice by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or filing an online complaint form at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
The EIDL program is designed to provide economic relief to small businesses that are experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. EIDL program funds can be used to cover a wide array of working capital and normal operating expenses. The CARES Act was enacted on March 27, 2020, to provide emergency assistance to individuals, families and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Among other things the CARES Act simplified the EIDL program application process and allocated additional funding to the EIDL program.