Federal grand jury indicts Heartland News director for filing false PPP loan application
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A federal grand jury indicted the director of The Heartland News on a bank fraud charge relating to a loan application with the federal COVID-19 relief program.
M.A. Yah is facing one count of bank fraud connected to a Paycheck Protection Program loan application, according to a Monday release from Acting U.S. Attorney Jan Sharp’s office.
According to the indictment, filed Thursday in federal court, Yah requested $100,800 in early May 2020 to support The Heartland News using fake IRS 941 forms that indicated the nonprofit newspaper had paid $120,690 in wages to nine employees every quarter in 2019. But the Nebraska Secretary of State revoked the organization’s certificate of authority on June 28, 2019, after the organization failed to deliver its biennial report to the state and also neglected to pay its biennial fee.
Heartland News was reinstated in March 2020, the indictment states, but no 941 forms were filed on behalf of Heartland News during the timespan indicated on the application, according to the indictment, “and the amount claimed to have been paid in payroll to employees was overstated and more than what had actually been paid to employees.”
If convicted, Yah faces up to 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine, five years supervised release, and a special $100 assessment.
Sharp’s office urges anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 relief to report it to the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721; or submit a complaint online.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the release states.
10/11 Now Reporter Bill Schammert contributed to this story.
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