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Coventry man charged with illegally obtaining $100k in Covid relief funds

A Coventry man was arrested and charged with fraudulently obtaining $100,000 in Covid-19 relief funds on Saturday, according to the Connecticut U.S. District Attorney’s office. John Matava, 58, owner of J.M. Builders LLC, allegedly used the funds to pay a dog breeder, an RV retailer and personal legal fees.

In April 2020, Matava applied to Celtic Bank for a $100,000 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan for his contracting business, J.M. Builders LLC. The application submission included several false representations, according to the criminal complaint, including that company had eight employees and an average monthly payroll of $40,000.

Additionally, the application stated that the loan would be used for payroll, lease, mortgage, interest, and utilities and that the business owner was not subject to pending formal criminal charges, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

However, at the time of the PPP loan application, there were no records of payroll or employees with the Connecticut Department of Labor for J.M. Builders LLC, and Matava was subject to criminal charges in two pending cases related to arrests in 2017 and 2018, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The U.S. Attorney’s office further alleges that on April 22, 2020, Celtic Bank disbursed $100,000 to a bank account for J.M. Builders LLC on which Matava was the signatory, which was opened the day before that loan funds were disbursed and had a balance of zero dollars. Matava used the funds primarily for personal expenditures, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office, including $3,498 to pay a dog breeder, $4,777 for payments to an RV superstore in Connecticut, and legal fees pertaining to four court cases in Rockville, Connecticut.

Matava also attempted to secure an additional $100,000 in PPP funds from Celtic Bank in January 2021, submitting another application containing several additional false statements and fraudulent tax documents, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. However, Celtic Bank denied the application.

The complaint charges Matava with wire fraud affecting a financial institution and making an illegal monetary transaction. The charges carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 and 10 years, respectively. Matava appeared in court in Hartford yesterday and was released on a $60,000 bond.

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Tom Hopkins

A national, award-winning journalist from Bristol, Tom has a passion for writing. Prior to joining CII, he worked in print, television, and as a freelance journalist. He has taken deep dives into sexual assault allegations by Connecticut professors, uncovered issues at state-run prisons, and covered evictions in the New Britain Herald. He chose to focus on issues based in Connecticut because this is his home, and this is where he wants his work to make the greatest impact.

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