Seattle Doctor Guilty of Pandemic Fraud to the Tune of Over $3.5 Million

A Seattle doctor was found guilty on Thursday of fraudulently obtaining over $3.5 million in COVID relief funds.

A federal jury convicted 41-year-old Eric R. Shibley for submitting several fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications to federally insured financial institutions, according to a statement by the Department of Justice.

According to the justice department, Shibley was convicted of multiple counts of wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.

Shibley allegedly added the wrong number of employees and payroll expenses in the fraudulent applications that he filled out on behalf of businesses that either weren't operational or were ineligible for COVID relief funds. He also didn't disclose his own criminal history.

"To support the fraudulent applications, Shibley submitted fake tax documents and the names of purported employees who did not, in fact, work for the businesses for which Shibley claimed they worked. Shibley received over $2.8 million in COVID-19 relief funds as a result of the fraud," the justice department statement read.

The Seattle doctor is expected to be sentenced on February 22 and might face from 10 to 30 years in prison for the different counts that he had been charged with.

Shibley was arrested last year and made his first court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michelle L. Peterson in June 2020, according to a court document.

In August 2020, the Washington Medical Commission (WMC) restricted Shibley's license for his "improper prescribing of controlled substances" to nine patients in 2015 and 2016.

The pain management medication that Shibley prescribed was "below the standard of care," according to the WMC.

"Dr. Shibley may not prescribe controlled substances while his license is restricted," the WMC added at the time.

Fraud cases related to COVID relief funds have been very common since the launch of the CARES Act.

In September, a California couple who were found guilty of fraudulently obtaining $21 million in COVID relief money allegedly cut off their ankle bracelets and escaped before their scheduled sentence, according to the FBI.

The couple along with two other family members scammed their way into attaining the COVID relief fund in June and spent the money on luxury items, including gold, diamonds, motorcycles and designer clothing.

Over 150 people were prosecuted in over 95 criminal cases related to COVID relief fund fraud. According to the justice department as of Friday, authorities seized more than $75 million that were fraudulently obtained in PPP funds.

Seattle Doctor Guilty of Pandemic Fraud
A federal jury found a Seattle doctor jury of fraudulently obtaining $3.5 million in COVID relief money. Above, the Department of Justice seal is seen on a lectern in Washington, D.C. on November 28, 2018. Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images