Hagerstown man facing federal criminal complaint and arrested over alleged PPP fraud

Hagerstown

FILE – In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, the Department of Justice seal is seen in Washington, D.C. An internet firm is ending the automated registration of website names that include words or phrases related to the COVID-19 pandemic, in an attempt to combat coronavirus-related fraud. Los Angeles-based Namecheap Inc. made the pledge after a federal judge in Texas on Sunday, March 22, 2020, ordered the takedown of a website the U.S. Department of Justice accused of stealing credit card information while offering fake coronavirus vaccine kits. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

BALTIMORE, Md. (WDVM) — A Hagerstown man is facing a federal criminal complaint and was arrested after allegedly falsifying statements and committing bank fraud, according to the Department of Justice.

The criminal complaint alleges that Jeffrey Bearden, 47, of Hagerstown applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan in May 2020.

On Sept. 22, 2021 the complaint was signed and it was unsealed when Bearden was arrested on Sept. 23.

If Bearden is convicted, he faces up to 30 years in federal prison for these charges.

Here are more details from the DOJ:

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, on May 1, 2020 Bearden electronically signed falsified documents attesting to inaccurate statements in order for his company, B&D Consulting, to receive $734,609.00 through the PPP for use in paying business costs consisting primarily of employee salaries. At that time, the company had no employees, nor reported paying any earnings and wages for any employee to the Maryland Department of Labor and Licensing (DLLR) in 2020.

As detailed in the affidavit, on May 18, 2020, the funds were approved and deposited into Bearden’s bank account. That same day, the $734.609 was transferred to a different bank account. The next month, $600,000 was transferred to Bearden’s brokerage account that was used to purchase stocks in a variety of publicly-traded companies, including one that produced a vaccine for COVID-19. The purchase of stocks is not an approved use of PPP loan funds by the Small Business Administration. 

In February 2021, Bearden applied for a second PPP loan of a similar amount, attaching a fraudulent bank statement for a B&D Consulting account for the month of March 2020 showing the company was paying salaries to at least 19 individuals. Records show that no deposits or withdraws had been made from that account in March 2020 and the account balance was in the negative.

Bailey Drumm, Department of Justice

Bearden has been released pending trial.

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