BOULDER, Colo. — A Boulder man has been sentenced to 30 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to taking money from pandemic relief funds by filing false applications.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado ordered Russell Lester, 44, to also pay more than $584,000 in restitution at his sentencing.
Lester pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in Denver federal court in November.
According to a release, Lester made false statements from March 2020 through August 2020 to get funds through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.
Lester received four EIDLs through the Small Business Administration (SBA) worth more than $217,000. He also received three SBA-funded grants from the EIDL program totaling $16,000. Two of Lester's PPP applications were approved totaling nearly $318,000. A third PPP loan for $297,200 was not funded. In all, Lester received $551,175.
Lester also made false statements to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) to get unemployment benefits, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. He collected more than $15,700 in unemployment benefits, according to a release.
Lester used some of the money he received to pay himself, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Other portions went to non-eligible expenses such as paying old debts unrelated to the businesses receiving the loans and extending high-interest loans to other people.
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