PORTLAND — A Norway man admitted Monday to filing fraudulent applications for loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which was aimed at easing the financial burden of the pandemic on small businesses.

Merton Weed Jr., 51, pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud in U.S. District Court. A charge of HUD fraud was dismissed by prosecutors.

From May 2020 to January 2021, Weed filed eight fraudulent loan applications for the federal program with different lenders and received more than $240,000 in federal money, according to court records.

The applications listed false average monthly payrolls and numbers of employees, and were supported by false payroll records and bank records, according to court records.

Specifically, the applications included materially false and fraudulent representations about the numbers of employees purportedly employed by the applicants, and the average monthly payroll for the applicants, according to prosecutors.

Weed also falsely stated on the applications that the money from the loan was necessary to support his payroll, prosecutors said in court documents.


He also submitted false documents to the lenders in support of his applications, documents that included false payroll records identifying nonemployees as having received wages when, in fact, they were not employees nor had they received wages from the applicant; false IRS records claiming that the applicant had withheld federal income taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes from employee wages; and falsified bank records that altered the account holder’s name (to match the name of the relevant PPP applicant) and inserted non-existent account transactions, according to prosecutors.

Weed faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

He was arrested in Norway in February 2022; The Norway Police Department assisted the FBI in the arrest.

No sentencing date has been set.

Weed will not be allowed to appeal his conviction nor any sentence of less than 22 months in prison.

The Paycheck Protection Program was a COVID-19 pandemic relief program administered by the Small Business Administration that provided forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses.

Third-party lenders could approve and disburse the SBA-backed federal loans to cover payroll, fixed debts, utilities, rent/mortgage, accounts payable and other bills incurred by qualifying businesses during, and resulting from, the COVID-19 pandemic.

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