Missouri business owner pleads guilty to $231,100 pandemic loan fraud

Guilty Plea

A business owner from St. Louis County, Missouri on Tuesday admitted a role in fraudulently applying for pandemic-related loans totaling $231,100.

Joe C. Cohen Jr., 66, of Bel Ridge, pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry to two felony counts of theft of government property.

Cohen admitted to providing his personal information to someone who submitted applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans for two of Cohen’s businesses with falsified information, overstating the revenue and number of employees for the businesses. The loans were intended to help business owners struggling with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cohen knew that this person was going to submit the applications, and deposited the resulting loan money, $110,000 in one loan and $121,100 in the other, into his checking accounts, according to his guilty plea. He then transferred a portion of the money to the man who applied for the loans.

Cohen was indicted in October. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14 and could face up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. He will also be ordered to repay the money.

The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Klocke is prosecuting the case.