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Ex-dentist arrested, accused of stealing $8M in COVID-relief

December 17, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Department of Justice officials are accusing a former dentist from West Linn of defrauding the government out of nearly $8 million in money meant to help small businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Oregon, said officials believe Salwan Adjaj in 2021 submitted dozens of loan applications from his dental practice computer to the Small Business Administration in an effort to obtain funds through the Economic Impact Disaster Loan program, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Those applications, officials said, included fictional employer identification numbers, false business start dates, employee counts, locations and identities.

Once the Small Business Administration rejected most of those applications, officials said, “he shifted his sights to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund,” where he had more success.

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In May 2021, he submitted similarly faked applications for restaurants allegedly located in Florida, which generated nearly $8 million in fraudulent loan payouts, the statement said.

Adjaj was charged with aggravated identity theft and wire fraud.

Officials said Adjaj was arrested Wednesday and ordered to be detained Thursday “pending further court proceedings.” It wasn’t immediately known if Adjaj has a lawyer to speak on his behalf.