Colorado man sentenced for using COVID Relief Funds for plastic surgery, weight loss and jewelry

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Published: May. 27, 2022 at 9:27 AM MDT
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HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (KKTV) - The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado says 50-year-old Daniel Stonebarger, of Highlands Ranch, was sentenced to 41 months in Federal Prison.

Officials say between April 5, 2020 and June 10, 2020 Stonebarger submitted several fraudulent “applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Grants (EIDLs and EIDGs), and Paycheck Protection Program loans (PPP) through the Small Business Administration”. In total he obtained $855,252.50 in funds”.

He also applied for Colorado Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and was paid $28,142 by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE).

Stonebarger used new and existing names to apply for the loans “and falsified creation dates of businesses, numbers of employees, revenues, and costs”. In a press release, officials say “the defendant used these funds to pay for, among other things, plastic surgery for a relative, a weight loss program, bridal expenses, jewelry, a Peloton, travel, and resort expenses”.

“This defendant took money that was supposed to be used to provide emergency financial assistance to small businesses and individuals suffering adverse economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prosecuting pandemic fraud is a priority of the Department of Justice and an ongoing focus for investigators here in Colorado,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan.

“This defendant was a criminal opportunist who took advantage of what he saw as easy money through programs created to keep businesses afloat during the pandemic,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider. “This outcome is a reminder that the FBI aggressively pursues those who try to defraud the federal government.”

“We continue the pursuit of those who exploit taxpayer-funded relief programs for their own illicit gain,” said Marc DellaSala, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service Denver Field Office. “Along with partners at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, our unified law enforcement community has taken unprecedented measures to identify, locate, and arrest those responsible for pandemic-related fraud. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for its tireless support of these efforts.”

“We created the Colorado Unemployment Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute those who steal critical pandemic-related government funds for personal gain. I am thankful and proud of the collaboration between the task force and the U.S. Attorney’s office that enabled us to bring this defendant to justice for defrauding the government. When the public is cheated, we are all cheated and we’ll continue to hold fraudsters accountable,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

In addition to Stonebargers’ prison sentence, he will serve three years of supervised release, pay $794,462.08 in restitution to the SBA and $28,142 to the CDLE. The Court also issued a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $822,794.50.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

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