Elgin Restaurant Owner Charged in Payment Protection Program Fraud Case

Melissa Turasky, 43, submitted a fraudulent loan application and received $176,822 in PPP funds, federal prosecutors said

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A suburban Elgin restaurant owner has been indicted on a fraud charge for allegedly defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal loan program designed "as a lifeline" for small businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic, federal officials said.

Melissa Turasky, 43, of Lake in the Hills, was charged with one count of bank fraud and one count of making false statements to a financial institution, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois.

According to the federal indictment, Turasky, who owned Gifford’s Bar and Restaurant, applied for and obtained $176,822 in PPP funds by submitting a fraudulent loan application to a bank.

However, as of early March, her business was no longer operational and had been evicted from its rental space, federal prosecutors stated. By the end of the month, all of her employees had been terminated.

The PPP allows qualifying small businesses and other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two years and a low interest rate of one percent, the news release stated.

Loan proceeds must be used by businesses on payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities.

Turasky fraudulently provided figures approximating Gifford’s monthly payroll and other business expenses, to make it falsely appear that the restaurant continued to have payroll and business operating expenses, the indictment states.

The bank fraud and false statement charges are each punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison.

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