SCRANTON- The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Nicholas Perkins, age 57, of Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, was charged on June 28, 2022, by a federal grand jury with perpetrating a fraud and money laundering scheme that included approximately $420,000 in COVID-19 relief guaranteed by the Small Business Administration through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
The PPP is designed to help small businesses facing financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by the March 2020 CARES Act, PPP funds are offered in forgivable loans, provided that certain criteria are met, including use of the funds for employee payroll, mortgage interest, lease, and utilities expenses.
According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, the indictment alleges that Perkins, the sole proprietor of Well-Versed Oilfields, LLC (“Well-Versed”), a Wellsboro-based energy industry consulting firm, took out $465,000 in PPP loans in the name of Well-Versed, and then used $420,000 of those loan proceeds to buy a beach front vacation home in Dauphin Island, Alabama. In December of 2020, Perkins then asked for loan forgiveness for these funds, declaring in his loan forgiveness application that he used the funds for eligible pay costs, such as payroll costs, business mortgage interest payments, business rent or less payments, or business utility payments, and that at least 60% of the forgiveness amount was used for payroll costs. In reality, Perkins spent over 90% of the PPP loan amounts on the beach front vacation property, intending to be used as a secondary residence and a potential rental income source. Perkins is charged with one count each of Wire Fraud, Bank Fraud, Unlawful Money Transaction, and making a False Loan Application.
The case was investigated by the IRS, Criminal Investigations Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney James M. Buchanan is prosecuting the case.
The maximum penalty under federal law for the most serious offenses is 30 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
Criminal indictments are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.