Montana Man Acknowledges Fraud on Virus Aid Application

Man who applied for $35,000 in Paycheck Protection Program funds was ineligible due to felony charge

By Associated Press

BILLINGS — A Montana contractor acknowledged lying on an application for federal coronavirus relief money.

Matthew Jason Welch said he planned to use the money to pay off restitution in a separate criminal case, the Billings Gazette reported Tuesday. He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Billings.

Under his plea agreement, prosecutors will dismiss a second count of wire fraud.

The newspaper said Welch had applied for roughly $35,000 in Payroll Protection Program funds in April on behalf of his company, Welch Sole Proprietorship. The funds were provided by Congress to aid businesses struggling due to the pandemic.

Businesses are ineligible for the funds if they are owned by someone with an active criminal case, on probation or parole, or someone with a felony conviction within the past five years.

Welch said Tuesday that when he applied for the funds, he knew he had been charged with a felony for deceptive practices in Stillwater County District Court. He was accused of taking almost $32,000 from three separate households for home repairs without starting or completing the work. Welch pleaded not guilty in that case.

Welch has additional cases active in Wyoming. He has denied these charges, the Gazette reported.

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