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SALT LAKE CITY — A former Olympic speed skater and current Utah resident faces charges alleging she lied to a bank to obtain millions in CARES Act funding for her entertainment company.
On Wednesday, a federal grand jury in Utah's U.S. District Court indicted Allison Baver on nine charges consisting of one count of money laundering and eight counts of making false statements to a bank, according to court records.
Charging documents allege Baver made false statements to two banks while applying for the Paycheck Protection Program through the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2020. The program was part of the CARES Act, which provided temporary financial relief for during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Throughout April 2020, Baver made requests for a PPP loan to two banks: Northeast Bank, based in Portland, Maine, and Meridian Bank, based in Paoli, Pennsylvania. The PPP requests stated that Baver's company, Allison Baver Entertainment, had an average monthly payroll exceeding $4 million. She also claimed her company had over 100 employees. These figures would vary in her statements to the two banks, as the largest PPP request stated the company had an average monthly payroll of $4,770,583 and 430 employees.
However, federal law enforcement alleges the company actually had no monthly payroll and no employees. Charging documents detail eight statements made to the two banks, which is the basis for most of her charges.
In May 2020, Meridian Bank funded the company's PPP loan for $10 million. Charging documents say all but $500 of the loan amount was transferred from one ABE bank to another at the same bank.
The loan was one of the largest PPP amounts doled out to a Utah company, as only four additional companies in the state received the same amount, according to PPP loan data.
On July 23, 2020, Baver allegedly transferred $150,000 in PPP loan money to another company "for the purpose of investing in a film entitled 'No Man of God,'" according to charging documents. This transfer is the basis for the money laundering charge.
Included in charging documents is a notice that federal officials want to seize over $9.5 million from Baver and an additional sum equal to any property that cannot be recovered from Baver. Federal officials also want to recover the $150,000 investment in the "No Man of God" film.
Court records show Baver was issued a summons Wednesday. She's scheduled to appear on Jan. 18, 2022, for an initial appearance via video call before Magistrate Judge Cecilia Romero. Baver does not have an attorney listed in court records.
As of Wednesday, the business license for Baver's company was listed as expired with the Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code.
Baver's large loan amount drew scrutiny from Utah media, as an article from the Salt Lake Tribune published on July 14, 2020, called the company into question. The Tribune detailed how Baver's company was started the previous October before it claimed to have 430 employees.
Baver, who was quoted in the article, later filed a lawsuit against the newspaper in July 2021 claiming the Tribune article was defamatory, and she asked for over $300,000 in damages. Two months later, Baver's attorneys filed a motion to withdraw as her counsel, and the lawsuit has no additional filings or hearing dates as of Wednesday.
According to the Team USA website, Baver competed in short track speed skating, and she won a bronze medal in the women's 3,000 meter relay during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.