Man pleads guilty to misusing pandemic relief business loan

 Man pleads guilty to misusing pandemic relief business loan

A Mississippi man pleaded guilty Monday to a federal wire fraud charge for abusing more than $ 6 million in business loans through a pandemic relief program, prosecutors said.

Instead of using the money for his businesses, Christopher Paul Lick admitted to using it for personal stock market investments and buying a home worth more than $ 1 million, according to a news release from Clay Joyner , the U.S. attorney in northern Mississippi.

Lick, 47, of Starkville, filed loan applications with banks that provide loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program, according to court records.

Records show that Lick owns and manages four companies, including Aspen River Candle Co., based in Columbus, Mississippi. Joyner said Lick admitted to overstating the number of employees and salary expenses to receive money.

Paycheck Protection Program loans are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

“The CARES Act loan programs are intended to help small businesses and families struggling to survive during a difficult pandemic,” Joyner said. “Unfortunately, too many individuals like the defendant are abusing these programs for their own personal gain.”

Lick entered a guilty plea the day he was scheduled to file a case. He faces up to 30 years in prison, with the sentence set for Aug. 12 before Senior U.S. District Judge Glen Davidson.

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