William Sadleir, 67, the former chief executive of Aviron Pictures has agreed to plead guilty to bank fraud and money laundering. admitting that he applied for and received $1.7 million in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for Aviron entities when the entire operation was being shuttered as a result of his embezzlement. Sadleir filed bank loan applications seeking $1.7 million dollars in forgivable PPP loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Sadleir obtained the loans for three Aviron entities by falsely representing that the funds would be used to support payroll expenses for 33 employees at each company, when in fact the entities were no longer operational. Within days of the loans being funded on May 1, 2020, Sandleir transferred nearly $1 million to his personal checking account.
Sandleir “expended a substantial amount of the fraudulent loan proceeds on utility bills, mortgage expenses, and his personal attorney, among other things,” he admitted in his plea agreement. Sandleir “did not use any of the fraudulent loan proceeds to pay employees of the Aviron companies.” After discovering the fraudulent loan applications, federal agents seized $308,058 of fraudulent loan proceeds from an Aviron account, and Sandleir returned $1,122,090 to the bank that funded the loans. As a result of the fraudulent PPP loan scheme, the SBA suffered losses of $282,566. In his plea agreement, Sandleir agreed to pay full restitution.
Once he pleads guilty to the two offenses, Sandleir will face a statutory maximum sentence of 50 years in federal prison. Prosecutors have agreed to recommend that whatever sentence is imposed should run concurrent with a sentence to be imposed in a pending case in the Southern District of New York. Sandleir is scheduled to be sentenced in the New York case on May 10 after he pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud for misappropriating more than $25 million that had been invested in Aviron.