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Case Number: 1:21-cr-00199
Judge: Eleanor L. Ross
Court: United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (Fulton County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Atlanta
Description: Atlanta, Georgia criminal defense lawyer represented the Defendant charged with attempt and conspiracy to commit fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1349.
Paul Kwak, participated in a multi-million-dollar fraud scheme related to the COVID relief program. The charges and other information presented in court: Paul Kwak conspired with others to submit millions of dollars of fraudulent EIDL applications in the names of shell companies that had no employees and conducted no business activities.
The EIDL program is an emergency relief program run by the Small Business Administration (SBA) that provided millions of Americans with much needed economic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. An EIDL application must provide, among other information, the amount of revenue the business generated in the 12 months prior to the application and the number of employees. The applicant must certify that the information is correct and that he or she is legally eligible to apply for an EIDL.
Kwak filed fraudulent EIDL applications and recruited and taught others to file fraudulent applications, totaling over $2 million. Kwak posted related videos on his YouTube channel, where he provided financial and investment advice before the pandemic. In a May 2020 video titled “EIDL, disaster assistance you don’t have to pay back,” Kwak explained, in Korean, that applicants could receive tens of thousands of dollars in assistance without collateral or a co-signor, using only the applicant’s electronic signature. One of his clients, according to Kwak, had recently received $150,000 in EIDL proceeds.
Kwak conspired with others, including Joosoo Choi-Bang, Jon Sun Hun, and Sook Hee Kim, each of whom previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced. Ultimately, the SBA paid over $1 million as a result of the fraudulent applications. Kwak has agreed to forfeit three homes and a Mercedes GLS 580 purchased with fraud proceeds. He has also agreed to forfeit over $1.6 million from multiple bank accounts associated with the fraud.
Paul Kwak, 65, of Braselton, Georgia, was sentenced to three years, four months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,198,300. Kwak was convicted of these charges on June 20, 2023, after he pleaded guilty.
Choi-Bang was sentenced to one year, six months in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release. Huh and Kim were sentenced to two years in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Huber prosecuted the case.
Outcome: IMPRISONMENT: Forty (40) Months. SUPERVISED RELEASE: Three (3) Years with standard, special, and mandatory conditions. Special Assessment fee of $100.00 and Forfeiture. Restitution in the amount of $1,198,300.00