Snowbird Bob owner sentenced to prison

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 3:34 PM CDT
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MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (KAIT) - A Northeast Arkansas man who bilked the federal government out of thousands of COVID-19 relief funds is headed to prison.

Judge P.K. Holmes sentenced James Read of Mountain Home to 63 months in federal prison on each of three counts of money laundering, wire fraud, and making a false statement. The sentences will run concurrently.

In addition, the judge ordered Read to pay $277,827 in restitution immediately.

Read, who was the owner of Snowbird Bob LLC, pleaded guilty in March to illegally obtaining a pandemic relief loan and unemployment benefits.

According to prosecutors, Read applied for a Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan from the Small Business Administration.

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the loans were intended for businesses struggling during the pandemic with essential expenses, including payroll.

Prosecutors said Read provided “inflated wage and employee data about his business.” They also said he falsified tax documents.

“He further admitted to laundering the PPP loan proceeds by purchasing a new vehicle,” said David Clay Fowlkes, the acting U.S. Attorney.

Read also pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud for trying to obtain unemployment benefits for himself and others in Louisiana.

He has been ordered to surrender to federal authorities on Nov. 4 to begin his imprisonment.

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