A Bakersfield doctor will pay $70,000 in damages and penalties under a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice for fraudulently obtaining a second loan under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to a news release from Phillip A. Talbert, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.
Sandeep S. Walia, a medical doctor, has agreed to also pay back the $430,000 PPP loan which he obtained after he was already awarded a loan for $280,000. The loans, which were forgivable, were intended to assist businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with payroll and other costs.
A message left for Walia on Wednesday was not returned.
The news release said Walia "falsely certified to a PPP lender that his medical practice had not received a PPP loan." Businesses were only entitled to one PPP loan.
"The second PPP loan should have been disbursed to another small business suffering financially during the COVID-19 pandemic," Talbert said in the news release. "The Department of Justice and our partners at the SBA will use all of the tools at our disposal, including civil fraud statutes, to recover funds for federal programs intended to help those in need during this national emergency."
Walia is listed as a surgeon with the West Coast Eye Institute in Bakersfield. According to the California Medical Board website, Walia has a probationary license to practice medicine in California until 2022 "for unprofessional conduct and dishonest or corrupt acts for failing to disclose a formal written warning for concerns regarding professionalism, interpersonal and communication skills, and medical knowledge during residency on his application for a license."
The investigation was conducted with the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Inspector General.