COVENTRY, Conn. (WTNH) – A Coventry man has been charged with fraudulently obtaining COVID-19 relief funds, according to the Department of Justice.
John Matava, 58, was charged on January 7 with wire fraud and making an illegal monetary transaction.
In a criminal complaint, in April 2020, Matava applied to Celtic Bank for a $100,000 PPP loan for J.M. Builders LCC. According to the DOJ, the application included false representations, including that the company had eight employees and an average monthly payroll of $40,000. It was reported that the monies would be used for payroll, lease, mortgage, interest and utilities. According to the DOJ, at the time of the application, there were no records of payroll or employees with the Connecticut Department of Labor for J.M. Builders LLC, and Matava was subject to criminal charges in two pending cases related to arrests in 2017 and 2018.
The DOJ said that on April 22, 2022, Celtic Bank disbursed $100,000 to a bank account for J.M, Builders LLC, which had been opened on April 21, 2020, and had a balance of $0 immediately prior to the loan funds being dispersed.
According to investigators, from April 2020 to January 2021, Matava used the funds primarily for personal use including $3,498 to pay a dog breeder, $4,777 for payments to an RV superstore and a $2,000 retainer for legal fees for four court cases in Rockville.
It is further alleged that in January 2021, Matava sought an additional $100,000 grant for PPP funds from Celtic Bank and included additional false statements and fraudulent tax documents. That grant was denied by the bank.
In March 2020, the CARES Act provided emergency financial assistance to Americans suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief was giving loans to small businesses, which allowed them to receive loans to help pay for payroll, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities.
The charges Matava is facing carry a maximum term of 40 years.
He was released on a $60,000 bond.