BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Two brothers in the Buffalo area face serious prison time after pleading guilty to defrauding banks in a scheme to receive multiple federal loans aimed at helping businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross’ office announced Friday.

Lancaster resident Larry Jordan, 45 and Sutukh El, a 41-year-old Buffalo resident who is also known as Curtis Jordan, Hugo Hurt or Hugo Hermes Hurtington, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, which the U.S. Attorney’s office said carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Jordan also entered guilty pleas to bank fraud and engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property, charges that together could add a maximum of 40 years to his prison term. They are scheduled to be sentenced in January 2024.

According to court documents, the brothers conspired to fill out fraudulent applications for eight Paycheck Protection Program loans on behalf of companies they owned or controlled between April and September of 2020. The PPP loans were funded by the CARES Act, which was passed by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the applications, Jordan and El exaggerated the 2019 payroll expenses of their companies in an effort to receive PPP loans to which their companies would not have been entitled. To back up the payroll claims, the brothers submitted phony IRS forms and payroll registers that purported to identify the names, personal information, and salaries of the workers listed on the applications.

In one PPP application, Jordan and El claimed their company 5 Stems Inc employed 194 people with an average monthly payroll of $242,133.33 in 2019. That application, which was approved by Evolve Bank & Trust, resulted in a $605,2000 PPP loan that was deposited into one of El’s bank accounts. In reality, 5 Stems had only nine employees and paid all of them a total of approximately $57,380 combined throughout the entire year.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said some of the fraudulently obtained funds were used for Jordan and El’s own investments, personal expenses and home improvements.

In addition to three applications submitted to Evolve, the brothers also submitted five PPP applications to Utah-based financial tech company Lendio.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

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Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.