Understanding Conspiracy Charges in PPP Loan Fraud Cases

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was established as a government-granted economic relief initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While PPP loans were a lifeline for many businesses, they also ended up as the aggravating point for accusations and charges for fraudulent activities. 

At The Rickman Law Firm, our PPP loan fraud defense attorneys in Tampa aim to provide you with the knowledge and expertise you need to navigate a complex PPP loan fraud conspiracy charge confidently.

PPP Loans and Loan Fraud

The PPP, enacted under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, aimed to support businesses facing financial hardships due to the pandemic. PPP loans were designed to cover essential expenses like payroll, rent, and utilities, with the promise of forgiveness if the given funds were used appropriately. 

Conspiracy Charges Defined

In legal terms, conspiracy refers to an agreement or understanding between two or more individuals to commit an unlawful act or to achieve an unlawful objective. Importantly, it is not necessary for the conspirators to succeed in carrying out the unlawful act for conspiracy charges to apply. Even if the planned offense is not completed, the act of conspiring can lead to criminal liability.

In the context of PPP loan fraud, conspiracy charges arise when multiple individuals or entities collaborate with the intent to commit fraud related to PPP loans. This can include conspiring to submit false information on loan applications, misrepresent payroll expenses, or use loan proceeds for unauthorized purposes. The critical elements of conspiracy, as mentioned earlier, apply specifically to the unlawful activities surrounding PPP loans.

Conspiracy charges in PPP loan fraud cases are grounded in 18 U.S.C. § 371, a federal statute that makes it illegal to conspire to commit any offense against or defraud the United States. PPP loan fraud, being a federal offense, falls squarely under this statute’s purview.

Utilizing Defense Strategies Key Elements of Conspiracy Charges

To establish conspiracy charges in PPP loan fraud cases, prosecutors must prove three fundamental elements:

  1. Agreement: There must be a clear and demonstrable agreement between two or more individuals to commit PPP loan fraud. This agreement can take various forms, whether implicit or explicit, as long as it evidences a mutual understanding and intent to engage in unlawful activities related to PPP loans.
  2. Intent: Each conspirator must possess the intent to commit the fraud, fully aware of its illegality. This underscores the importance of comprehending the legal ramifications of one’s actions when applying for and disbursing PPP loans.
  3. Overt Act: At least one conspirator must take an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy, even if the actual fraud is never executed. These overt acts might encompass filing falsified documents, making fraudulent statements to lenders, or transferring funds to obscure fraudulent activities.

Potential Penalties Key Elements of Conspiracy Charges

Individuals charged with conspiracy in PPP loan fraud cases face serious consequences, including substantial fines and imprisonment. Under 18 U.S.C. § 371, maximum penalties include:

  • A fine of up to $250,000 for individuals.
  • A fine of up to $500,000 for organizations.
  • Imprisonment for a term of up to five years.

These penalties underscore the imperative need for expert legal representation from PPP loan fraud defense attorneys in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm to create a robust defense against conspiracy charges.

Potential Penalties Defending Against PPP Loan Fraud Conspiracy Charges

Defending against PPP loan fraud conspiracy charges requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the specific circumstances of the case. It involves legal expertise, a deep understanding of federal laws, and the ability to craft a strategic defense.

  • Challenge the Agreement Element: One potential avenue for defense is challenging the existence of a true agreement to commit fraud. Demonstrating that there was no clear or mutual understanding among the alleged conspirators may be a powerful defense strategy that your defense attorney employs.
  • Examine Intent: Your PPP loan fraud defense lawyer in Tampa may scrutinize whether each conspirator had the requisite intent to commit fraud. If it can be shown that some individuals were unaware of the fraudulent nature of the activities, it could potentially weaken the prosecution’s case.
  • Evaluate Overt Acts: The overt acts in the development and, or, furtherance of the conspiracy must be closely examined. Disputing the significance or relevance of these acts could potentially undermine the prosecution’s argument.
  • Negotiate Plea Bargains: In some cases, it may be prudent to negotiate plea bargains that result in reduced charges or penalties. Experienced attorneys can skillfully navigate these negotiations to secure the best possible outcome for their clients.

Get the Expert PPP Loan Fraud Defense That You Deserve With The Rickman Law Firm

The repercussions of a conviction can be dire, making it essential to seek the assistance of skilled PPP loan fraud defense lawyers in Tampa as soon as possible. 

If you or someone you know is facing PPP loan fraud conspiracy charges, do not hesitate to contact The Rickman Law Firm. We are here to guide you through this challenging legal process, protect your rights, and relentlessly work to secure the best possible outcome for your case. 

Contact our office at any point by calling us at 813-999-0502 or fill out our consultation form for one of our attorneys to reach out to you soon.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.


Schedule Consultation

Case Results


SB, a sixty-two (62) year old out-of-state resident was visiting his family in Pinellas County when he was arrested on April 13, 2019 for Child Neglect and Driving Under the Influence. Attorney Anthony Rickman worked
Show More

DUI with Property Damage Reduced to a Reckless Driving

Our client was originally charged with Driving Under the Influence with Property Damage after hitting a Hillsborough County Sheriff Deputy’s vehicle. The Defense was able to get the charge reduced to reckless driving. Outcome: DUI
Show More


The Client was charged with Resisting an Officer Without Violence, Trespassing and Disorderly Conduct. Attorney Anthony Rickman was able to convince the State to not file charges for the Disorderly Conduct charge and the case
Show More