Man sent to prison for faking suicide to avoid fraud charges for Covid-19 relief loan

David Staveley left suicide notes and car by ocean before disappearing

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Sunday 10 October 2021 16:53
<p>David Staveley</p>

David Staveley

A Massachusetts man who faked his suicide to avoid fraud charges over more than $540,000 in Covid-19 relief loans has been jailed.

David Staveley, 53, was the first person in the United States to be charged for fraud associated with the CARES Act, which was created to help struggling small businesses during the pandemic.

Staveley, who is also known as Kurt David Sanborn and David Sanborn, was accused of conspiring with David Andrew Butziger, 53, of Rhode Island to file four fraudulent loan applications.

Investigators say the men falsely told a bank in Rhode Island that they owned a restaurant business with large monthly payrolls.

Staveley admitted to the fraud and in May 2020 was released on home detention and fitted with an electronic monitoring device.

Prosecutors say that Staveley then cut off the monitoring device and staged his own death by leaving suicide notes, including one for his 81-year-old mother, before leaving his car by the ocean.

He then travelled to a string of different states using false identities and stolen license plates.

After a nationwide search by the US Marshals Service he was arrested in Alpharetta, Georgia, in July 2020.

Staveley was sentenced to 56 months in federal prison, on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of failure to appear in court.

Federal judge Mary McElroy told a crying Staveley that he was guilty of a “get rich quick” scheme as she sentenced him in Providence, Rhode Island.

“It’s my fault. I take responsibility,” Staveley said of the forgivable loan applications he made for a total of $543,959 for businesses he did not own or that had closed down.

“He simply saw a way to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars for himself,” said Assistant US Attorney Lee Vilker.

Authorities say that Staveley has a lengthy criminal record, including wire fraud convictions from New Hampshire.

Mr Butziger is due to be sentenced on 1 November 2021.