U.S. District Judge John A. Ross on Tuesday sentenced a man who helped at least 20 people file fraudulent pandemic loan applications that reaped $666,656 to a prison term of 57 months and ordered him to repay the money.
Jacob Eldridge, 45, of St. Louis, solicited at least 20 friends and acquaintances to file fraudulent applications for Paycheck Protection Program loans from at least Jan. 1, 2021, to Jan. 13, 2022. Eldridge often drafted and submitted fraudulent applications on behalf of those people. On at least 10 applications, Eldridge included entirely fictitious or substantially inflated gross annual income figures to max out the loans. He often also submitted bogus IRS forms on behalf of the businesses.
In exchange for his help, many of the applicants paid Eldridge at least ten percent of the loan proceeds, totaling about $50,000.
The loans were intended to help struggling business owners and their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Wiseman said Eldridge used the “darkest days” of the pandemic, when Americans were suffering, “to line his pockets.”
Judge Ross echoed that, telling Eldridge, “We were in a desperate situation… and you took advantage of it.”
Eldridge pleaded guilty in May to one felony count of wire fraud.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Wiseman prosecuted the case.