By CBS Baltimore Staff

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Maryland man is accused of defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program to the tune of more than $700,000, which authorities say he used to trade stocks.

Jeffrey Bearden, 47, of Hagerstown, was arrested Thursday on a federal complaint charging him with false statements and bank fraud. Bearden faces up to 30 years in federal prison if convicted of those charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Friday.

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After applying for PPP funding to cover payroll for B&D Consulting, Bearden was approved in May 2020 for a $734,000 loan. Despite saying the money would be used for business expenses and employees’ salaries, the company had no employees and did not report paying any wages.

Instead, the full loan amount was wired to a different bank account the same day it was received.

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Charging documents say most of the money was transferred a month later to a brokerage account, the same account Bearden used to buy stocks in a number of companies, one of them a vaccine producer.

Bearden applied for another PPP loan in February 2021, filing a bank statement that suggested his company employed 19 people. After reviewing records, investigators found no money was moved in or out of that bank account during the window he had specified.

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The 47-year-old made his first appearance Friday in federal court in Baltimore, where he was allowed to go free while awaiting trial on those charges.

CBS Baltimore Staff