- Prosecutors say Michael Moller posed as a lawyer to steal money from fellow inmates in Rhode Island.
- Moller perpetrated this scheme while awaiting sentencing for defrauding the government out of $699,251 in PPP loans.
- Prosecutors say Moller’s actions in jail show he’s “incapable of stopping himself from defrauding others.”
Prosecutors said a Rhode Island man posed as a lawyer to steal money from fellow inmates while he awaited sentencing for defrauding the government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal coronavirus relief loans.
Michael C. Moller, 42, was sentenced to nearly 7 years in prison on Tuesday for defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was designed to loan money to businesses forced to temporarily close due to the coronavirus pandemic so that they could continue to pay their employees.
According to court documents viewed by Insider, Moller applied for PPP loans using the names of friends and relatives and created false business profiles. In total, Moller stole $699,251 from the program, which he spent on “trips to Las Vegas and New Hampshire, numerous trips to local casinos, the purchase of a Camaro automobile, the renovation of his residence, and online video gaming.” Additionally, Moller perpetrated this fraud while on supervised release for a prior armed robbery conviction.
Arguing that Moller should receive a lengthy sentence, prosecutors detailed in a September 27 court filing how he continued to engage in criminal activities even while detained in connection to his PPP fraud scheme.
Two of Moller’s fellow inmates at the Wyatt Detention Center complained to the FBI that Moller “defrauded them into giving him thousands of dollars in cash as payment to a purported lawyer who would assist them in their criminal and immigration cases,” according to the filing.
Prosecutors said that Moller posed as a lawyer named “Sam” in phone calls with the fellow inmates. At one point, they said Moller got one of the inmate’s hopes up by saying that the lawyer had been able to post bail for him.
The inmates were directed to pay Moller’s girlfriend their legal fees, with one inmate having his wife deliver $5,000 to the girlfriend, and the other having a friend transfer about $12,000, according to the filing. Prosecutors learned that the money was spent on “marijuana, gambling, and on Moller’s commissary account.”
The court documents detail how Moller acknowledged this scheme and agreed to have it impact his sentencing in the PPP fraud case, in exchange for no separate charges being filed.
Prosecutors asked that Moller be sentenced to 99 months in prison, saying that his behavior while in federal lockup “demonstrates that Moller is simply incapable of stopping himself from defrauding others.”
“During a period in which one would imagine that Moller would be on his best behavior in an effort to convince the Court that he was remorseful for his prior conduct, he did the exact opposite by orchestrating yet another scheme to defraud people with whom he came in contact,” prosecutors wrote.
The judge gave Moller a slightly smaller sentence of 82 months and three years supervised release. Moller must also pay $100 for a special assessment and $599,251 in restitution.
Insider reached out to Moller’s attorney for comment, but did not immediately receive a response Wednesday morning.