Fraudster faked his own death in bid to get out of paying back £400k Covid loan

A man who falsely claimed almost £400,000 in government pandemic handouts faked his own suicide in a bid to evade justice.

Massachusetts businessman David Adler Staveley, 54, was the first person in the US to be prosecuted for claiming pandemic small business loans under false pretences.

Staveley and his partner David Andrew Butziger, 53, filed documents with the US CARES Act Paycheck Protection Programme claiming that they owned an electronics company; Dock Wireless, and three restaurants, Top of the Bay and Remington House Inn in Rhode Island and On The Trax in Massachusetts.

In fact, the pair owned none of these businesses.

The total of Covid relief loans paid out to the two men, ostensibly to cover “large monthly payrolls”, amounted to $543,000 (£398,868).

A whistleblower who worked for the men handed emails about the conspiracy to the FBI.

Investigators interviewed a number of people that the pair claimed were employees at Dock Wireless and the conspiracy began to unravel. “Dock Wireless had no employees and no wages were ever paid by the business,” according to a release from the US Department of Justice.

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Staveley and Butziger were picked up by police and placed under house arrest in May 2020. They were due back in court the following month.

However, three weeks after being charged, Stavely cut off his electronic ankle tag and, leaving behind a “suicide note” drove his car to the coast and left it unlocked with his wallet inside.

For the next two months he travelled through various states using false identities and stolen license plates.

He was caught in Alpharetta, Georgia by United States Marshals on July 23, 2020.

Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge Mary S. McElroy on October 7, Staveley was sentenced to 56 months in federal prison to be followed by 3 years of federal supervised release.

Co-conspirator Butziger is scheduled to be sentenced on November 1, 2021.

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