A Massachusetts man who faked his own suicide to avoid being charged for defrauding the government out of $543,000 in COVID-19 relief loans was sentenced to nearly five behind bars, federal prosecutors said.
David Adler Staveley, 54, of Andover, was the first person in the country accused of seeking pandemic small business loans under false pretenses.
Prosecutors said Staveley and co-conspirator David Andrew Butziger, 53, claimed they owned four businesses — including three restaurants — that went under due to the COVID-19 lockdown. In reality, they didn’t own any of the businesses, the feds said in a press release Thursday.
The phony restaurateurs fibbed on an application for the Paycheck Protection Program, telling a Rhode Island bank they had “large monthly payrolls” and needed more than a half million dollars, prosecutors said.
David Butziger and David Staveley claimed they owned four businesses, including three restaurants.Facebook
Police were tipped off to the ploy by a whistleblower who had access to emails between the grifters that spelled out the scheme, according to officials.
The FBI then interviewed four people Butziger claimed worked at an unincorporated business called Dock Wireless — and discovered they were not employees at the company the Rhode Island man said he owned, the release stated.
After the men were busted and placed under house arrest in May 2020, Staveley removed his electronic tracking device, wrote phony suicide notes, parked his car next to the ocean with his wallet in it and went on the lam, prosecutors said.
He “traveled to various states using false identities and stolen license plates,” before being picked up outside Atlanta in July, the feds said.
Butziger will be sentenced on Nov. 1.
Police were informed by a whistleblower that had access to David Staveley’s and David Butziger’s emails detailing the schemes.Getty Images/iStockphoto