Michigan non-profits settle PPP loan fraud allegation

by Ben Vernia | March 14th, 2023

On March 13, the Department of Justice announced that two Michigan education non-profits had agreed to pay over a quarter million dollars to settle a whistleblower’s allegations that they had submitted false claims to the PPP COVID-19 pandemic relief program. According to DOJ’s press release:

Two Michigan nonprofit organizations, the Michigan Education Association (MEA) and the Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA), have agreed to settle allegations that the organizations violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by applying for and obtaining loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for which they knew or should have known they were ineligible.

Congress created the PPP in March 2020, as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to provide emergency financial support to the millions of Americans suffering economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act authorized billions of dollars in forgivable loans to certain small businesses and other entities struggling to pay employees and other business expenses. Under the rules applicable at the time of the loans covered by today’s settlement, certain nonprofit organizations were not eligible to receive a PPP loan.

In 2020, MEA, a 501(c)(5) nonprofit labor union organization, and MESSA, a 501(c)(9) voluntary employees’ beneficiary association, each applied for and obtained a PPP loan. The United States contended that these organizations knew or should have known they were ineligible to receive their PPP loans, and that they caused the Small Business Administration (SBA) to pay lender fees to the bank that processed the loans. In connection with the settlements announced today, MEA will pay $115,265 and MESSA will pay $110,622 to the United States resolve these allegations. MEA and MESSA repaid their loan proceeds in full in December 2020.

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The government has not yet announced the amount the whistleblower will receive as its share.

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