Pandemic News

North Texas wedding planner goes to prison for using PPP funds on Tesla

North Texas wedding planner goes to prison for using PPP $$ on a Tesla

Tesla Motors, NorthPark Center
He said he was using the money to pay employees when he was really buying expensive cars. Tesla

A wedding planner in Collin County who misused a PPP loan to buy expensive cars and pay off his mortgage has been sentenced to prison.

According to a release from the Department of Justice, Fahad Shah, 45, of Murphy, was sentenced to 31 months in prison on September 16, after pleading guilty in May to wire fraud.

Shah claimed via forged documents that his family business Weddings by Farah Inc. had more than 100 employees, and sought approximately $3.3 million in funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which he claimed he would use to pay those employees.

An SBA-approved lender provided over $1.5 million in PPP loan funds to Shah. Contrary to program's terms, Shah used the money to pay off his home mortgage, and bought two Teslas and a Mercedes, among other items.

The DOJ found that the company only had two employees: Shah and his wife.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said that they've already had several of similar fraud cases such as this.

"Any time assistance money like this becomes available, somebody's going to figure out a way to perpetrate a scheme," the spokesperson said.

In a statement, Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei said that they're going to continue to chase cases like this down.

"Stealing limited COVID relief funds is the very definition of stealing from the less fortunate," Ganjei said. "Every dollar that was stolen and extravagantly spent in this case was one less dollar that went to a struggling business scrambling to meet its payroll obligations to employees.  The Department of Justice and its partners will do everything in their power to investigate and prosecute those that would deign to steal these limited funds and stall national recovery efforts."