Two local men accused of trying to steal from pandemic relief fund

It started with a tip three weeks ago from the Berlin Police Department and then turned over to federal investigators. Two men are accused of trying to steal more than half a million dollars under the CARES act.

David Butziger, 51, of Warwick, R.I. and 52-year-old David Staveley, known as Kurt Sanborn, who is from Andover, have been charged with trying to steal more than $500,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program.

“We found on three occasions Staveley applied for loans with approximately $438,000 by claiming that he had dozens of employees at three restaurants he owned,” said Joseph Bonavolonta from the FBI Boston.

Staveley allegedly claimed he owned Warwick’s Top of the Bay restaurant as well as another restaurant called The Remington House Inn and, in Berlin, Mass., the On The Trax, which were never even open for business prior to the pandemic, according to authorities.

“Claiming to have dozens of employees earning wages at four different businesses that were hard hit by the crisis, all of which were blatant lies,” Bonavolonta said.

The FBI said that the two men lied just so they could get money from the PPP, which the federal government set up to help small businesses pay workers during this pandemic under the CARES act.

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“It was all a sham, in order to get a cut of cash,” Bonavolonta said.

Authorities said that Butziger tried to apply for a fourth loan, claiming to be the owner of a wireless company. And, Staveley allegedly tried to steal his own brother’s identification to make real estate transactions.

”These two men together submitted multiple false federal loan applications, fraudulently claiming to have dozens of employees earning tens of thousands,” said Kristina O’Connell with the IRS.

Authorities said they even found emails between the two openly discussing their plans.

“At a time when this country should be coming together, Staveley and Butziger decided to take advantage of the pandemic,” O’Connell said.

Authorities made it clear, these men are the first in the nation to be charged with trying to steal money from the small business Paycheck Protection Program. The men were arraigned on Tuesday.

The FBI published the following release detailing the case.