Richard B. Russell Federal Building Georgia

The Richard B. Russell Federal Building is located in Atlanta, Ga.

(The Center Square) — An Atlanta businessman has been arraigned on federal charges that he provided fraudulent information on a Paycheck Protection Program loan application.

On Jan. 3, a federal grand jury indicted Travis Lee Harris, 41, of Atlanta, Georgia, on a wire fraud charge.

Federal prosecutors say Harris signed a PPP loan application with fraudulent information about the number of employees, payroll and revenue for his business, Atlanta Luxury Cars & Trucks LLC. Based on the application, a lender deposited $968,405 into a company bank account, and prosecutors say Harris transferred the money to his personal bank accounts.

"Congress established the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses, not to be easy money for anyone willing to lie on a loan application," U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan said in a statement. "We will continue to investigate and prosecute anyone who defrauded taxpayers out of the funds meant to sustain the economy during the COVID-19 crisis."

Separately, last week, the feds announced 11 men — eight from metro Atlanta and three from South Carolina — have been sentenced in federal court for their roles in obtaining roughly $3 million in PPP loans on behalf of ten businesses in Georgia and South Carolina. According to a release, federal authorities have recovered nearly $1.2 million of the money.

According to prosecutors, Rodericque Jarmaine Thompson, 45, of Atlanta, recruited nine others to apply for fraudulent PPP loans on behalf of their businesses.

Another man, identified by prosecutors as Antonio D. Hosey, 50, of Atlanta, acted as a go-between with the business owners and Thompson. The feds say Hosey recruited check cashers to cash fake payroll checks from the business owners and gave the cash to Hosey, who passed it on to Thompson.

Thompson, convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, was sentenced to five years and ten months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. He must pay more than $2.7 million in restitution.

Hosey, convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States, was sentenced to one year and a day in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He must pay $463,779.79 in restitution.