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Macomb pizza entrepreneur charged in virus loan program fraud

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A Macomb Township entrepreneur has been charged in connection to an alleged scheme to receive more than $931,000 in federal funds used to help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, authorities announced Thursday.

Michael Bischoff faces one count of bank fraud, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan in a statement.

Prosecutors claim the 60-year-old owner of several restaurants in Macomb County, including Passport Pizza, sought at least nine loans under the Paycheck Protection Program overseen by the Small Business Administration.

Shown is a portion of a Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program Borrower Application Form, Tuesday, April 21, 2020 in Washington.

In each application filed between June 4 and Aug. 2, the businessman is alleged to have "falsely represented the amount of payroll and the number of employees working for the Bischoff Entities," according to a filing in U.S. District Court.

Some applications "included false documentation, purportedly from the IRS, to support the misrepresentations about payroll expenses at those entities," and in as many as six, Bischoff allegedly "fraudulently used another person’s personal identifying information to secure approval for the loans," authorities said.

Bischoff allegedly received more than half of the money, which he is required to forfeit, according to court documents.

The attorney listed as representing him did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night.

The court filing is titled a criminal “information,” which means a guilty plea is likely, the Associated Press reported. 

The case follows others in Metro Detroit involving fraudulent PPP loan claims.