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Eden Prairie man arrested in connection with $ 2.1 million in fraudulent COVID-19 relief loans

A man from Eden Prairie who fled the country has been returned to the United States where he was arrested and accused of fraudulently requesting more than $ 2.1 million in COVID-19 relief funds.

Harold Bennie Kaeding, 72, fled to Colombia in an apparent attempt to evade prosecution, according to the United States Attorney’s Office in Minnesota. He returned to the United States last week and was arrested in Miami on Sunday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Kaeding applied for several fraudulent loans through the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Catastrophe Loan Program between April and December 2020.

Kaeding “capitalized on the COVID-19 pandemic to exploit emergency funding mechanisms to knowingly submit numerous bogus and fraudulent requests to receive proceeds from a loan he knew he was not entitled to to receive “, according to the indictment against him.

While some of his requests were denied or recalled, Kaeding ended up receiving around $ 658,490 of the $ 2,182,625 he had requested.

He did not use those funds for authorized business expenses, according to the charges. Instead, he transferred this money to other bank accounts he controlled and used them for his personal purposes.

He is said to have withdrawn at least $ 84,000 in cash from various ATMs; spent $ 80,000 on a mortgage payment to avoid foreclosure on the house he lived in; and made wire transfers to family and friends, including at least $ 51,000 to his wife’s bank account, according to court documents.

Kaeding is accused of submitting loan applications using the names of family members and four entities in Minnesota who did not file income tax returns and report payment of any employee’s wages in 2019 and 2000. Some of these companies had been dissolved years earlier but had applied for reinstatement in April or May 2020.

Kaeding included false income tax returns and fake bank account statements with his claims, according to the indictment. He also made false statements about the number of employees, the amount of salary expenses and the intended uses of the loans.

He is accused of one count of electronic fraud and one count of money laundering. The investigation was conducted by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

Attempts to contact Kaeding’s lawyer in Miami were unsuccessful.