ITHACA, N.Y. (WETM) — An Ithaca man was convicted on Tuesday after being found to have spent COVID-19 relief money in the form of Paycheck Program (PPP) loans, for personal gain, according to a release by U.S. State Attorney Carla B. Freedman.
The release states that 60-year-old Ejembi Onah was convicted on Tuesday, Oct. 10, of two counts of wire fraud and three counts of transactions in criminally derived property for obtaining two PPP loans and spending the funds of more than $140,000.
It was shown in court that Onah submitted two fraudulent PPP loan applications to two different lenders in June 2020. The applications included false information about the payroll and number of employees that Onah had at his company. He claimed that he owned a seasonal nanotechnology business and was supported by falsified tax returns.
After receiving the loan money the release states that Onah spent more than $140,000 on paying back rent for his home, leasing a luxury car, fund his expenses of daily living, along with other things.
PPP loans were given out to qualified individuals during the COVID-19 Pandemic as forgivable loans to help American business owners going through economic struggles.
Onah has a sentencing date of February 15, 2024, as he faces up to 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count and up to 10 years in prison for each money laundering count. On top of the prison time, he faces up to three years of parole, repayment to the victims, and a fine of up to $250,000 per count. The court found that Onah must also give over to the United States more than $140,000 in loan proceeds and an additional nearly $100,000 of those proceeds that he spent in three different transactions exceeding $10,000 each.