Clinton business owner admits COVID-19 relief loan fraud – Department of Justice

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MISSOULA — A Clinton roofing company owner today admitted to allegations that he used a federal business loan of more than $400,000 intended for economic relief caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to instead buy personal items, including an ATV, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a camper, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
Damon Alexander Wahl, 46, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and to money laundering. Wahl faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Wahl also admitted to a forfeiture count and agreed to forfeit a 2021 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a 2018 Hideout camper trailer and a 2013 Polaris RZR all-terrain vehicle.
U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy presided. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The court set sentencing for July 26. Wahl was released pending further proceedings.
The government alleged in court documents that in July 2021, Wahl, who operates Wahls Roofing LLC in Clinton, received a $405,400 loan from the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), which was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. EIDL loans were intended to provide economic relief to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that experienced a temporary loss of revenue during the pandemic. Business owners seeking EIDL loans were required to certify under penalty of perjury that they would use the money solely for business operating expenses, such as payroll, rent and mortgage payments, utilities and business debt.
The government further alleged that in his loan application, Wahl wrote that he intended to use the money to finish his shop, buy equipment for the roofing business and pay a second crew. Instead, Wahl used at least $160,000 for personal expenses, including $13,900 for an ATV, more than $21,000 for a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle and $14,700 for a camper. When interviewed about the loan, Wahl said he knew he needed to spend the loan on his business and admitted he did not.
U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot are prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI and IRS.
Clair Johnson Howard
Public Affairs Officer
District of Montana
Billings Main Office
2601 2nd Ave N.
Suite 3200
Billings, MT 59101
Telephone: (406) 657-6101
Toll free:     (800) 291-6108
Fax Line:   (406) 657-6989
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