Indictment accuses suspect of bank, wire fraud in COVID-19 funds scheme

Local News

The indictment of a 64-year-old Saint Augustine, Ill., man for allegedly committing one count of bank fraud and two counts of wire fraud was unsealed Friday.

The indictment for Michael L. Patch was unsealed during Patch’s initial appearance in federal court in Peoria, Ill., on Friday, according to a news release from the U. S. Attorney’s Office – Central District of Illinois.

The indictment alleges that Patch was the owner and operator of a now-defunct restaurant named Vernon Street Grill in Farmington, Ill. Patch maintained a bank account for the business at the Bank of Farmington, the release says.

Starting in or around April 2020, Patch allegedly applied for certain types of funding and programs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

The indictment asserts that, through use of false and inflated gross receipts and payroll numbers, Patch appeared to qualify for funding from the PPP and EIDL programs. The indictment further alleges Patch knowingly provided loan documents to the Bank of Farmington containing false information to receive a loan through the PPP program. He also is accused of submitting a fraudulent loan application to the Small Business Administration to obtain funds from the EIDL program.

Patch was released on bond. His next court appearance will be Dec. 8.

If he is convicted, the maximum statutory penalties are up to 30 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and up to five years of supervised release for the bank-fraud charge, and up to 20 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervised release for each wire fraud count, the release says.

Investigating agencies include the Illinois Department of Revenue Criminal Investigations and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas F. McMeyer represents the government in the prosecution.

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