A captain at the New York City Department of Correction is among more than a dozen current or former public workers accused of fraudulently obtaining small business loans meant for COVID-19 relief.
The Department of Justice has accused Edwin Skepple of giving false information to the Small Business Administration to secure funds through a pandemic program meant to aid small businesses in distress, according to a complaint unsealed on Wednesday.
“These are individuals who held positions of trust and had strong, stable jobs while so many people struggled during the pandemic,” said Thomas M. Fattorusso, special agent-in-charge at the IRS' Criminal Investigation division, in a statement.
City payroll records confirm Skepple’s employment as a DOC captain.
Skepple allegedly filed multiple applications, mostly through a singular IP address, to secure funds under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, the complaint reads. A July 2020 application for funds claiming a printing and graphic design business was approved for $50,000.
The complaint alleges the applications cited revenue and financial losses that were grossly inconsistent with Skepple’s tax filings, which claimed his employment with the city Department of Correction as his sole source of income. On one of the applications, Skepple used an email address that investigators believed “to be his workplace email address at NYC DOC,” according to the complaint.
An attorney for Skepple did not immediately comment. Skepple was among several defendants scheduled to appear before a federal judge on Wednesday afternoon.
Other city and state workers were also embroiled in allegations, including current and former employees of the NYPD, the Administration for Children’s Services, the Department of Education and the state-run MTA.
"Scheming to steal government funds intended to help small businesses weather a national emergency is offensive,” said Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement. “And, as public employees, these folks should have known better.”