Guilderland woman sentenced to 16 months in prison for $1.6 million loan fraud

Albany — Women of Guilderland Who scammed over $1.6 million in pandemic-related relief loans Intended to help poor businesses, she was sentenced Tuesday to one year and four months in prison after a judge called her crime “the most outrageous act I have ever seen.” declared.

Debra Hackstadt, 68, has admitted to falsifying and grossly exaggerating the number of employees, salaries and sole proprietorships in 32 loan applications, imposed by U.S. District Judge Glen Sadaby. Based on the ruling, he must pay $1,696,324 in damages. When Hackstadt’s prison term is over.

Hackstadt pleaded guilty to two wire fraud charges in May. She was at the expense of the Paycheck Protection Program, a private financial institution-issued, U.S. government-backed loan, and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan issued by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

On Tuesday, Hackstadt and her attorney, Jonathan Cohn, asked Suddaby for leniency. They told the judge that Hackstadt experienced a childhood filled with trauma and abuse, thyroid and kidney cancer, and the death of her husband of nearly 47 years in April 2019.

“I’m very sorry. I was trying to help my family,” Huckstadt tearfully told Sadaby, as six family members and supporters watched from the court bench. I really didn’t think anything of it when I took out the loan.”

Cohn asked the judge to consider life imprisonment. The attorney said his client had paid back more than $154,000 in owed money (an amount the judge later called “insignificant”).

“She is 68. This is not a mastermind criminal,” the lawyer said.

The judge told Hackstadt that many people experience hardships in life.

“The difference is that they don’t commit fraud, they lie at age 68. There is no justification for this behavior,” said Sadhabi.

Hackstadt’s age, lack of criminal record, and acceptance of responsibility caused Suddaby to fall short of sentencing guidelines calling for a prison term of 33 to 41 months. He told Hackstadt that she defrauded her lenders and the government for her own benefit.

“This is the most outrageous act I have ever seen. There is no excuse or explanation,” he said, adding that Hackstat’s past “in no way justifies this act.”

A judge has allowed Hackstadt to appear in prison the first week of January.

“You represent a very unusual case,” the judge told the defendant, adding, “Not what I normally do.”

Hackstadt’s plan caused the agency to issue 27 PPP loans and EIDLs totaling $1,615,546, according to Albany federal prosecutors.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joshua Rosenthal and Michael Barnett wrote in their pre-sentence recommendations to Saddadi that “the defendant has a loan program that provides an emergency financial lifeline to legitimate business owners and their employees.” I cheated,” he said. Due to the economic impact of the pandemic, Defendant viewed PPP and her EIDL program as an opportunity to become involved in a wide range of illegal schemes. “

Prosecutors said the loans were made to Hackstadt, her family, acquaintances, and companies controlled by her or her family. said they fabricated or grossly exaggerated the number of employees and labor costs that were financed.

In addition, prosecutors said Hackstadt admitted to defrauding two financial institutions in connection with a contract to purchase supposed receivables from the insolvent company. In 2019, she fraudulently obtained $42,290 by falsely claiming to her lender that a company had gross annual sales of her $180,000.

“But the company had no business and no revenue as the defendants knew when they made these false statements,” the prosecutor told Sadaby.

And in 2021, prosecutors found fake bank statements that falsely showed that a Huckstat-controlled company was making significant business revenues at the same time that Hackstat was applying for the Pandemic Relief Fund. said it fraudulently received $48,500 from a second lender who said it had provided tax documents to Mr. when there was nothing Hackstadt quickly defaulted on both loans and the lenders lost him $80,778 in total.

Prior to 2019, Hackstadt had filed five bankruptcy cases in 16 years in addition to civil judgments, according to prosecutors.

The prosecutor told the judge, “The prelude to the defendants’ widespread fraud during the pandemic shows that the flood of pandemic assistance has only amplified the defendants’ pre-existing desire to commit crimes.” “The court’s ruling should send a strong message not only to this defendant, but to all would-be fraudsters that this type of fraud has serious consequences.”

Federal Attorney Carla Friedman called the crime “mass fraud” and said, “She took advantage of an economically devastating pandemic to divert money allocated for legitimate businesses struggling to survive. In a statement, Janine DiGuiseppi, a special agent in charge of the FBI’s Albany field office, said in a statement that Hackstadt “had more than $1 million from companies that desperately needed and deserved help.” was stolen,” he said.

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