RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Richmond man plead guilty in federal court today to a million-dollar conspiracy to defraud the federal government of COVID relief funds.

Moe Ayemen Mathews, of Glen Allen, was accused of making 38 false applications to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which gave small businesses loans – which could be forgiven – to help them cover operating costs during the pandemic.

Of those applications, 25 were “first draw” applications, while the remaining 13 were “second draw” applications made by companies that had previously received loans.

Mathews, along with an unnamed co-conspirator, sent applications that contained “false statements, false certifications, and/or fabricated tax documents.”

For instance, Mathews admitted as part of his plea agreement that he and his co-conspirator fabricated a monthly payroll for Fresh Start Affordable Housing, LLC, claiming that the company 6 employees when in fact it had none.

This isn’t the first time Mathews has had a brush with the law. In 2020, investors accused him of defrauding them by soliciting investments in a halfway house to assist homeless veterans, Richmond Bizsense reported.

At the time, some took to investing forums to warn others of his deception, writing that he had in fact flipped the property he purchased, leaving investors with a serious loss. He also used local media outlets to promote the scheme, according to a forum poster.

Now, Mathews faces a maximum of thirty years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. His sentencing is scheduled for October 7, and until then, court records show he’s been released on his own recognizance.