In a recent sentencing hearing before Senior U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough, Alex Jennings, a 40-year-old Springfield man formerly of Lincoln, received a 12-month-and-one-day prison term in the federal Bureau of Prisons. The sentence comes as a result of Jennings' conviction for wire fraud related to pandemic relief funds.
The court found that Jennings had defrauded the Small Business Administration and a private lender by fraudulently obtaining two Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that he did not qualify for. Instead of using the funds to support businesses during the global pandemic, Jennings purchased two cars for himself.
The fraud committed by Jennings, and others like him, left legitimate businesses struggling to obtain the much-needed aid during the crisis. Judge Myerscough emphasized the severity of the offense and ordered Jennings to pay $46,666 in restitution to the defrauded parties.
Earlier this year, Jennings pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud, and the statutory penalties for such offenses include up to 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000, along with a term of up to three years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris expressed his concern over the misuse of the PPP funds meant to help businesses and workers during the pandemic. He vowed to hold accountable those who sought personal gain by exploiting the relief system.
such programs were designed to assist those genuinely in need, not to benefit fraudsters.
The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, with the cooperation of the Springfield Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah E. Seberger represented the government in the prosecution.
Authorities urge the public to report any suspicions of fraudulent activity related to COVID-19 disaster relief benefits to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NDCF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or through the NCDF Web Complaint Form.