Man who applied for fraudulent relief loans gets probation

PROVIDENCE, RI (AP) — A Rhode Island man who, along with an accomplice, fraudulently applied for hundreds of thousands of dollars in coronavirus pandemic relief loans for struggling small businesses has avoided jail and has been sentenced Wednesday to three years probation.

David Andrew Butziger, 53, of Warwick, is to spend the first six months of his sentence under house arrest and was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, according to a statement from the office of Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha.

Butziger and his accomplice, David Staveley, 54, of Andover, Massachusetts, sought to defraud the Paycheck Protection Program by soliciting more than $500,000 in forgivable loans by claiming to have dozens of employees in three restaurants and a communications company, when in fact there were no employees at any of them.

They were the first people in the country charged with fraudulently applying for PPP loans when they were first charged in May 2020, prosecutors say.

Butziger pleaded guilty in October 2020 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Staveley, who faked his own death after his initial arrest and fled for several months before being arrested, pleaded guilty last May and was sentenced in October to almost five years in prison.

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