- The Washington Times - Friday, May 29, 2020

A Virginia man was indicted Friday on charges that he pilfered roughly $190,000 in coronavirus relief aid by misrepresenting his income, employment and criminal record.

Joseph Cherry II, 39, of Newport News, faces 10 federal counts, including wire fraud, theft of government property, false statements and money laundering.

If convicted on all 10 counts, Mr. Cherry faces between 10 to 30 years in federal prison.

Mr. Cherry applied for the funds through the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program, according to court records.

Mr. Cherry claimed his business nearly $1.3 million in gross revenue over the past year and incurred costs of $725,000 because of the pandemic, court records reveal.

Prosecutors say the business was not registered until a week after he applied for the loan.

Mr. Cherry also said he did not have a criminal record when, in fact, he was on parole for a prior federal conviction, prosecutors said. Under the terms of his supervision, Mr. Cherry was not permitted to obtain a loan or open a bank account without permission, court records revealed.

After receiving $190,000 in funds, Mr. Cherry made several significant cash withdraws from his account, including one for $34,000 and another for $33,000, prosecutors said.

About a month after he was approved for the first loan, Mr. Cherry allegedly sought a second coronavirus relief loan. This time, he claimed he had five employees with gross revenue of $1.6 million and incurred $1.3 million in losses because of the pandemic, prosecutors said.

Once again, Mr. Cherry denied having a criminal record, according to court documents.

“The immediacy with which the Deputy Marshals responded in making this arrest should send a clear message to those intending to misuse the financial resources our government is providing to those trying to recover from the ongoing pandemic,” U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia Nick E. Proffitt said in a statement. 

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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