Former Olympian charged with falsely obtaining $10 million in PPP funds

Former Olympic speed skater Allison Marie Baver was charged Wednesday with money laundering and eight counts of making a false statement to a bank in Utah, where she allegedly applied to get $10 million in fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, the New York Post reports. 

Baver won a bronze medal with Team USA in the 3000-meter women’s relay in Vancouver in 2010. Two years after retiring in 2017, she launched her entertainment company, Allison Baver Entertainment.

On eight separate PPP applications, Baver allegedly claimed an average monthly payroll of $4.7 million for 100 to 430 employees, when she actually had no payroll at all.

Using funds she received, she invested $150,000 in a film production company that was producing No Man of God, a 2021 film starring actor Elijah Wood. The movie is about serial killer Ted Bundy and it was released in August.

The fabrication

She told The Salt Lake Tribune around the time of the applications that she had several projects in development, adding that they were labor-intensive, and required a large staff to complete.

“Due to the need for large crews in close proximity, these types of productions have been particularly disrupted by the pandemic, and we recognize our responsibility to put these professionals back to work as soon and as safely as possible,” Baver told the outlet via email. “We hope to set a good example as the entertainment industry gets back on its feet.”

She has not yet entered a plea with regard to the charges, but faces arraignment on Jan. 18. Her business was one of only 41 out of a total of 51,000 across the country that received $5 million or more in PPP relief funds.

Baver could get as much as 40 years behind bars if convicted, and authorities want her to surrender $9.7 million of the funds she received through her fraudulent efforts.

Hurting other businesses

A total of $813 billion was allocated to PPP loans during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when many businesses were forced to shut down and would have been forced to lay off most of their employees.

The loans were not meant to enrich companies and other organizations, but to help them help their employees during a time of genuine need.

As of May 2021, when disbursements slowed dramatically, around $800 billion had been allocated to businesses across the nation.

Neither Baver nor any other representative has commented on the indictment news, and Baver did not have an attorney of record as of this writing.

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