Former Lake Oswego resident sentenced to federal prison for Covid-Relief fraud | USAO-OR

PORTLAND, Ore.—After fleeing federal prosecution and being re-arrested, a former Lake Oswego, Ore., man was sentenced to federal prison today for stealing funds intended to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Unitan, aka Daniel Cohen, 47, was sentenced to 61 months in federal prison and three years of probation.

Unitan has taken advantage of economic relief programs administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) through Economic Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as permitted by law. CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security). The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans and small businesses suffering from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to court documents, in July 2020, a small business owner contacted the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office to report that a stranger had obtained and used personal information belonging to himself, his wife and their business. to open accounts in a bank in Boston. Some time later, the IRS Criminal Investigation independently opened an investigation into EIDLs and PPP loans obtained under suspicious circumstances by someone claiming to be Daniel Cohen and later confirmed to be Unitan.

A review of SBA records revealed that six EIDL applications were submitted using the small business owner’s social security number. Of the six applications, two were funded for a total of $295,000. These funds were paid into Boston’s bank account in June and July 2020. Investigators soon discovered that a transfer of $100,000 had been made from the Boston account to another bank account on June 24, 2020 and that, the same day, a wire transfer of $77,898 was made to Mackenzie Motor Company in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Investigators contacted the general manager of Dick’s Mackenzie Ford in Hillsboro and learned that an individual named Daniel Cohen had recently purchased a 2020 Ford F-350 Super Duty Lariat truck for $77,898 using a counterfeit California driver’s license. The general manager also told investigators that the individual showed up at the dealership driving a 2020 Tesla Model X and provided his insurance card for the Tesla as part of the purchase of the truck. A review of law enforcement records revealed that the Tesla was recently seized by the Lake Oswego Police Department because Unitan had been driving the vehicle with a suspended license.

Investigators compared the Oregon DMV photo of Unitan with the California driver’s license photo provided to the dealership; the similarities seemed to match. The small business owner who originally reported the fraud later confirmed that his company had previously hired Unitan for video production services. The business owner also confirmed that the photo on the counterfeit California driver’s license used to purchase the Ford pickup truck was indeed Unitan.

On December 22, 2020, federal agents and deputies from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office arrested Unitan at his home on a federal criminal complaint charging him with wire fraud, aggravated impersonation, and money laundering. . Federal agents also seized the Ford pickup and Tesla sedan, along with digital evidence that would later confirm Unitan had applied for dozens of EIDL and PPP loans. After his arrest, Unitan appeared contrite and offered to help the government investigate others defrauding COVID relief programs. After his pre-trial services officer found out that Unitan was spending money on an unauthorized account and demanded to meet him, Unitan fled.

On January 29, 2021, Unitan took his girlfriend and young child on what was believed to be a seven-week escape from law enforcement. On March 17, 2021, the U.S. Marshals Service located Unitan and his girlfriend at a hotel in Marysville, Washington and arrested him without incident.

On February 17, 2021, while Unitan remained a fugitive, a federal grand jury in Portland formally indicted Unitan for wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering. On October 29, 2021, he pleaded guilty to all three counts.

U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This matter was investigated by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, the IRS Criminal Investigation and the Office of the Inspector General of Small Business Administration. He was prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF online complaint at: https://www.

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