Former Montgomery County Social Media Influencer Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges for Scheming to Obtain More Than $1.2 Million in COVID-19 Cares Act Loans

by MCS Staff

Per the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland: Denish Sahadevan, a/k/a “Danny Devan,” age 31, of Potomac, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering, relating to his scheme to defraud lenders and the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) of more than $1.2 million in Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (“EIDL”).

According to the plea agreement, beginning in about March 2020, Sahadevan submitted EIDL and PPP application on behalf of four Maryland entities that he controlled, often creating fraudulent and fabricated documents, such as tax forms and bank statements, to be used in the applications.  In addition, Sahadevan used the identifying information belonging to a tax preparer that he knew, without that person’s knowledge or agreement, to legitimize the fabricated tax forms he created and submitted.

Specifically, Sahadevan admitted that he used his home in Rockville, Maryland to create the fabricated documents and electronically apply for EIDL and PPP loans.  Sahadevan applied for approximately 71 PPP loans totaling approximately $941,794.75, and successfully obtained approximately $146,000 in PPP benefits.  Sahadevan applied for and received eight EIDLs totaling $283,900.   On the EIDL loans, Sahadevan induced his father into becoming a co-signer for the loan, then forged his father’s signature on the loan application.  Sahadevan’s father would not have agreed to sponsor the loan had he known of its fraudulent nature and contents.

As detailed in the plea agreement, Sahadevan caused the fraud proceeds to be deposited into bank accounts he opened specifically for that purpose, then laundered the funds by engaging in several monetary transactions, including purchasing and trading securities and cryptocurrency, settling personal debts and making payments to his girlfriend.

In addition, between December 16, 2021 and January 10, 2022, Sahadevan applied to a financial institution for a $1,336,000 loan to purchase a property in Potomac, Maryland.  In the loan application, Sahadevan failed to disclose the $283,900 he owed to the United States for the EIDL benefits he fraudulently received.  Relying on Sahedevan’s representations, the financial institution approved the loan, which was used to purchase the Potomac property.

On February 24, 2023, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Sahadevan’s Potomac residence and recovered multiple electronic devices, a can containing approximate 18 driver’s licenses belonging to other individuals, what appeared to be a gold physical Bitcoin in a black case, and approximately $17,043 in cash found in a suitcase in a bedroom closet.  The cash and Bitcoin constitute proceeds of the fraud scheme.

As part of his plea agreement, Sahadevan will forfeit the cash and Bitcoin seized during the search on February 24, 2023 and will be required to pay restitution and a forfeiture money judgement of at least $429,906.

Sahadevan faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud; a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for money laundering; and a mandatory sentence of two years in federal prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed for aggravated identity theft.   U.S. District Judge Deborah L. Boardman has scheduled sentencing for September 21, 2023 at 2:00 p.m.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and John T. Perez, Special Agent in Charge, Headquarters Operations, Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act was a federal law enacted in March 2020 to provide emergency financial assistance to Americans suffering from the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Financial assistance offered through the CARES Act included forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses, through the PPP, as well as EIDLs to help small businesses meet their financial obligations, both administered through the SBA.

The District of Maryland Strike Force is one of three strike forces established throughout the United States by the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute COVID-19 fraud, including fraud relating to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act.  The CARES Act was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to Americans suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The strike forces focus on large-scale, multi-state pandemic relief fraud perpetrated by criminal organizations and transnational actors.  The strike forces are interagency law enforcement efforts, using prosecutor-led and data analyst-driven teams designed to identify and bring to justice those who stole pandemic relief funds.


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