ANDOVER -- An Andover resident is one of two businessmen charged with filing fraudulent applications seeking more than $500,0000 in forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

David A. Staveley, who also uses the alias Kurt D. Sanborn, 52, of Andover, and David Butziger, 51, of Warwick, Rhode Island, are the "first in the nation" to be charged with such federal crimes, according to Aaron Weisman, U.S. attorney for the state of Rhode Island.

Stanley and Putziger are charged with "conspiring to seek forgivable loans guaranteed by the SBA, claiming to have dozens of employees earning wages at four different business entities when, in fact, there were no employees working for any of the businesses," according to Weisman's statement.

They are both specifically charged with conspiracy to make false statement to influence the SBA and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Additionally, Staveley is charged with aggravated identity theft. Butziger is charged with bank fraud, authorities said.

“Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs and have had their lives thrown into chaos because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is unconscionable that anyone would attempt to steal from a program intended to help hard working Americans continue to be paid so they can feed their families and pay some of their bills,” Weisman said.

Attorney General William Barr directed all U.S. attorneys "to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of crimes related to coronavirus and COVID-19, and we are doing just that," he said.

Steveley and Butziger tried to capitalize on the COVID-19 crisis by "conspiring to fraudulently obtain" more than $500,000 in forgivable loans "that were intended to help small businesses teetering on the edge of financial ruin,” stated Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta of the FBI’s Boston Field Office.

“Thankfully we were able to stop them before taxpayers were defrauded, but today’s arrests should serve as a warning to others that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will aggressively go after bad actors like them who are utilizing the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to commit fraud," Bonavolonta said.

This is a developing story. A complete report will appear in online and print editions of The Eagle-Tribune.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

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