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Detroit man charged with defrauding federal Paycheck Protection Program for nearly $600K

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Posted at 12:01 PM, Jun 03, 2020

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A Detroit man has been charged for allegedly trying to get nearly $600,000 from the Payroll Protection Program for a non-functioning business.

U.S. ATtorney Matthew Schneider and the FBI announced that 51-year-old Darrell Baker has been charged.

According to the complaint, Baker applied and obatined a $590,000 Payroll Protection Program on behalf of the business he said he owned called "Motorcity Solar Energy, Inc."

The feds allege he submitted paperwork saying he had 68 employees and had paid wages, tips and other compensation totaling $2.8 million in 2019. The state had dissolved Motorcity Solar Energy Inc.'s status as a corporation in July 2109, and all of the alleged locations were either empty suites or single-family homes, with no evidence of business activity.

According to the feds, after the loan was funded, Baker purchased four cashiers checks and withdrew an additional $60,000 in cash. None of those checks, they say, were used for payroll or business expenses. Instead, they alleged Baker used them to buy two Cadillac Escalades, a Dodge Charger and a Hummer.

The complaint said Baker purchased one vehicle for his brother-in-law, one for his sister and two for his own use.

"Defendant Baker is charged with lying to obtain money that was supposed to help small businesses struggling with their payroll and expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Defrauding banks to obtain loans is never acceptable, and doing so during our current national emergency is unconscionable. This prosecution is yet another example of our office’s commitment to holding accountable anyone who would exploit the COVID-19 crisis for their own greedy desires," Schneider said.

“The Paycheck Protection Program is designed as a lifeline to businesses struggling to survive this current crisis. Instead of using these loans to salvage a legitimate business, the defendant allegedly bought expensive personal items for himself and his family,” said FBI Detroit Special Agent in Charge D’Antuono. “These actions harmed hard-working Americans and deserving small businesses. The FBI is committed to investigating anyone who seeks to take advantage of a global pandemic to line their own pockets at the expense of American taxpayers.”

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