Harlan man sentenced in federal court

Published 2:06 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2022


A Harlan County man was sentenced to more than two years in federal prison on Thursday after entering a plea of guilty to wire fraud for using false pretenses to obtain Paycheck Protection Program loans.

David Christopher Lewis, 49, was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Robert E. Wier.

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According to a press release, Lewis’ plea agreement states he submitted tow fraudulent applications on behalf of Bubba Fest, LLC and Elite Artists Agency, LLC, for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in May, 2020. The businesses were involved in a “comic con” style event known as “Bubba Fest” which Lewis had organized previously. The PPP was created through the CARES Act, which was passed in March of 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The loans were intended to provide an incentive for small businesses to keep workers on their payrolls during the pandemic. If the borrower established the loans were used for payroll, rent, or other approved business expenses, the loans would be forgiven by the United States Small Business Association. The business’s payroll determined the amount of the loan.

The release states Lewis used fake tax documents and payroll records which misrepresented the number of employees an payroll expenses on the PPP loan applications he provided to First State Bank of the Southeast. Lewis obtained fraudulent PPP loans for each business totaling $370,000. Lewis paid himself or his wife more than $100,000 of the PPP money. Lewis admitted in his plea agreement to obstructing the FBI’s investigation of his crime by providing a sworn affidavit that misrepresented the existence and whereabouts of the businesses’ employment and payroll records. 

Under federal law, Lewis must serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence.  Upon his release from prison, he will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for three years.  In addition to the term of imprisonment, Lewis was ordered to pay $370,000 in restitution to First State Bank of the Southeast, states the release.

The release additionally states the sentence was announced jointly by Carlton S. Shier, IV, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louisville Field Office. The FBI conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul McCaffrey represented the United States.

Anyone with information about allegations of 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 Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.