The creator of a pro-Trump scam PAC pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
Authorities say James Kyle Bell defrauded the Paycheck Protection Program of over $1 million.
The websites for Bell's Keep America Great PAC were seized and taken down by the FBI in 2020.
James Kyle Bell, the creator of a fake political action committee, admitted in federal court that he scammed donors by pretending to support President Donald Trump's reelection, according to court filings reported on first by the Daily Beast.
Bell, of Nevada, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and said that he also defrauded the Paycheck Protection Program. Prosecutors say they intend to seek a 78 to 97-month prison sentence for Bell along with a fine of $25,000 to $250,000, the Daily Beast said.
In a charging document filed in the US District Court for the District of Columba in April and first reported by the Huffington Post, prosecutors said Bell created the Keep America Great PAC and registered it with the Federal Election Commission to defraud donors by mimicking the Trump campaign, down to using the exact language in Facebook and Google ads and promising non-existent matching funds.
The Daily Beast reported in October 2020 that the FBI had seized and taken down the "keepamericagreatagain.com" website and domain, which authorities say improperly lifted copyrighted material and source code from the Trump campaign itself, including its logo, and another PAC.
Even as scam PACs go, Keep America Great was "brazen" in its efforts to swindle people who thought they were giving money to the Trump campaign or a PAC, with even Google and Facebook cracking down on their digital ads, per the Daily Beast. In all, Keep America Great brought in over $246,000 from donors over the course of 2020, according to prosecutors.
Bell then applied for business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program on behalf of five separate companies, an effort that involved submitting falsified information and even "fictitious tax forms" to defraud the program, prosecutors said.
For example, Bell claimed that three of the companies each had an annual payroll over $2 million with more than 200 employees, when in fact those companies combined had at most six employees with far less in payroll expenses, prosecutors said.
Bell ultimately ended up receiving a total of $1,139,836 in PPP loans for four of his companies, which prosecutors then say he diverted to put towards personal expenses and padding Keep America Great's coffers, where he "co-mingled the PPP loan proceeds with donations to KAGC," the charging document said.
On top of Keep America Great, prosecutors say Bell also created a less lucrative pro-Biden scam PAC - called the Best Days Lie Ahead Committee - which ended up bringing in around $100,000 from online donors.
Authorities have also ordered Bell to forfeit over $524,000 in funds from his bank accounts and shell out an $862,000-plus money judgement.
This story has been updated.
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