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Steal money from the federal government? First, meet Jeff Grant, an ex-convict who committed loan fraud

Thinking of stealing the government loan money you received as part of pandemic assistance?

Before you do, listen to Jeff Grant’s story.

After his opioid addiction, his theft of US loan funds, and a federal prison sentence, Grant’s life as a lawyer and business professional was over.

But according to him, his new life had only just begun. And for small business owners who feel desperate – enough to steal – he’s created a safe place to speak anonymously and seek advice.

Now pure and sober, remarried and out of prison, Jeff Grant, 64 years old, co-founder Progressive prison ministries, what could be America’s premier support group serving the white-collar community – specifically, those who have committed white-collar crimes and may have served time in jail.

Based online, the group attracts many business owners and white-collar workers from Philadelphia.

“Philadelphia has the second largest concentration of members of our support groups,” said Grant, including Seth Williams, a former Philadelphia attorney, who Grant said attends regularly. Williams was released from prison earlier this year after serving time for his bribery conviction in 2017.

Grant was convicted after fraudulently obtaining $ 247,000 in federal aid shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, falsely claiming that he had a law firm in lower Manhattan that was shut down by the disaster. He used the money to pay off his personal credit cards. During this time, her addiction to pain relievers intensified, as did her marital problems.

“In 2002, I resigned my law degree and started on the road to recovery. But it all caught up with me about two years later, when I was arrested “for misrepresenting her loan application. He spent almost 14 months in federal prison for wire fraud and money laundering.

“A lot of my story has to do with my wife, Lynn Springer,” he said. They met while in rehab in Greenwich, Connecticut, and have been married for 11 years.

“I was a really bad bet, but she stuck with me through prison and the tough years after,” said Woodbury, Connecticut-based Grant. He celebrated his 18th birthday sober and sober on August 10.

Based on a 12-step program, Grant created his support group for white-collar criminals and their families after graduating with a theology degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. It now hosts a White Collar Support Group every Monday.

“Here’s what business owners should consider when taking out disaster loans. Certainly the majority of people applying for these loans are upstanding, upstanding entrepreneurs who are in dire need of help and will use the funds properly, ”he said. “Having said that, history has shown us time and time again that when people are in need, they are more inclined to make impulsive and misguided decisions.”

“I hope that sharing my experience will help others avoid the consequences I have faced.”

Sometimes referred to in the business press as the “minister of hedge funds,” he uses his experience to guide families and professionals in their relationships, careers and businesses, and to help them stop making the bad decisions that have resulted in disruption. losses, suffering and shame.

Rampant SBA loan fraud today gives Grant’s story a new relevance. Wells Fargo this week said it fired at least 100 bank workers for improperly receiving coronavirus relief funds, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. also found that more than 500 employees took advantage of the disaster loan program from the SBA.

“What is happening now is almost indescribable,” he said. “Nineteen years after committing my crime of SBA loan fraud, I am now wanted both because of my edifying account and as an expert in SBA loan fraud. Believe me, no one cared about the nuances of how bad things could happen when taking disaster loans until COVID presented us with another huge disaster. “

Most recently, he hosted a podcast and interview with New Jersey politician Bill Baroni, who was jailed after the “Bridgegate” scandal with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and his bribery conviction was overturned by the court. Supreme of the United States.

Grant’s white-collar support group consists mostly of executives, lawyers, and other professionals, and – yes, they’re mostly white.

It has hosted over 200 online support group meetings and has an average of around 25 attendees at each meeting: https://prisonist.org/white-collar-support-group/.

Weekly meetings require advance registration for confidentiality reasons, and only first names are used. On Grant’s podcasts, all of the guests are after conviction or back from prison.

“How did my life come to be? Baroni told Grant on a recent podcast. “I had been a practicing lawyer, teaching constitutional law and the right to vote, I ran for parliamentary elections in 2003.”

“People have to make these tough decisions,” he said. “I wanted to get [his prison sentence] ended up with. When you go through that, everything has changed, completely changed, ”Baroni said.

When Christie was elected governor in 2009. Baroni headed the Port Authority overseeing the six New York-New Jersey area airports, bridges and tunnels, the PATH rail system, two bus terminals and the entire St. World Trade Center. Baroni served just under three months of an 18-month sentence, but was released after the Supreme Court agreed to hear his case.

The other guests are not so famous, but just as human.

For the episode “When Mum Goes To Jail,” Grant hosted a woman on trial for white collar crimes.

Jacqueline Polverari, convicted in 2014 of mortgage fraud, and her two daughters Maria and Alexa contributed an intimate look at how crime and prison ravage families, and the steps needed to heal and reunite families.

“I used mortgage funds to supplement my business,” Polverari told auditors. “My children were in middle school and high school. I knew I was being investigated by the FBI and hadn’t told the kids. I was guilty, I knew I was going to jail, so I sat the kids down and told them the truth. “

His children did not understand the extent of his crimes. Jacqueline has not been sentenced for several years and her mood flares up regularly.

“It was a long and tedious process. It started when I was in first year in high school and didn’t end until she got home from jail in my senior year of college, ”Alexa said on the podcast. “She didn’t leave us in the dark. She told us the honest truth. It made things a little easier.