The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a news release that 42-year-old Brian Bui could receive up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud last Thursday in the courtroom of federal Magistrate Judge Christine L. Stetson. Bui will be sentenced after a presentence investigation.
Prosecutors alleged that Bui used false information about his dental practice, including the number of employees and monthly payroll expenses, to apply for loans via the Paycheck Protection Program under the CARES Act. Bui ultimately stole $1.89 million after submitting the applications.
The program was a federal benefit whereby small businesses could seek forgivable loans to stay afloat as widespread panic, closures, government restrictions, and deaths occurred during the pandemic. As the program became the target of fraudulent dealings, the DOJ established a task force to investigate bogus applications for the funding.
Both American and international defendants have been convicted on charges related to stealing CARES Act funding. In June 2020, prosecutors accused a man from Austin of buying a wake boat and a Rolls Royce with funds he swindled from the program. Elsewhere in Texas, a couple from Cleveland faced charges last year after allegedly taking a lavish vacation with federal loans they had obtained using fake businesses.
In another case, a Nigerian man is currently serving a federal prison sentence for defrauding $1 million in pandemic-related funds.