Man agrees to plead guilty to some charges in PPP fraud case

A judge's gavel is seen in this court tile.

A businessman who federal authorities say faked suicide to avoid prosecution for fraudulently seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans intended for businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic has agreed to plead guilty to some charges, according to court documents.

David Staveley, 53, of Andover, Massachusetts, will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and failure to appear in court charges, according to documents filed Thursday in federal court in Rhode Island.

In exchange, federal prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of bank fraud, making false statements and aggravated identity theft.

An email seeking comment was left with Staveley's attorneys.

Staveley sought nearly $440,000 in loans claiming that he needed to pay dozens of employees at two restaurants he owned in Rhode Island and a third he owned in Massachusetts, federal prosecutors said when the charges were brought a year ago.

However, two of the restaurants weren't open before the pandemic began and had no employees, and he didn't have an ownership stake in the third, authorities said.

Staveley and another man, David Butziger, 52, of Warwick, were the first people in the nation charged with making phony applications for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, officials said at the time.

Butziger pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud in September and faces sentencing in June.

Staveley initially had pleaded not guilty and was released to home confinement, but last May 26, he removed his GPS monitor and disappeared, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

His vehicle was found near a beach in Quincy, Massachusetts. The vehicle was unlocked with the key in the ignition, and his wallet, credit cards, driver's license and a suicide note were found in the car, authorities said.

No evidence was found that he had taken his own life, and marshals concluded that Staveley faked his death to avoid prosecution.

Staveley fled first to Tennessee and then to Georgia, where authorities determined he was using a false identity and driving a vehicle with stolen plates. He was arrested last July in Alpharetta, Georgia, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

At the time of his arrest, he had multiple forms of identification bearing different names, authorities said.