A Bentonville man pleaded guilty in a scheme to fraudulently obtain $16.5 million in COVID-19 business loans from the federal government, U.S. authorities announced Tuesday.
Tyler Keith Penix, 37, formerly known as Tyler Keith Andrews, admitted to preparing and submitting dozens of fraudulent applications for the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
Authorities said Penix prepared fraudulent applications for two purported businesses owned by co-defendant Yuriy Anishchenko of Spokane, Washington. Anishchenko referred to Penix more than a dozen other potential “clients,” for which Penix prepared and submitted additional loan applications using false information and fraudulent documents.
Anishchenko and Penix shared in the proceeds from many of those applications, federal authorities said in a news release. In total, Penix admitted to obtaining more than $3.25 million in PPP and EIDL funding for his own businesses and another $13.5 million in EIDL funding for Anishchenko and others.
Penix pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison. A judge sat Penix’s sentencing for Jan. 11 in Spokane.
Authorities said an indictment against Anishchenko is pending.