A Macomb County restaurateur has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison after attempting to fraudulently claim close to $1 million in pandemic relief funds.
Michael Bischoff, owner of the Passport Pizza and Little Dino’s Pizza Express chains, among other restaurants, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud in November. He was sentenced to 32 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Paul Borman.
Prosecutors sought a minimum of 41 months in prison for Bischoff, 60, noting numerous previous convictions for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, the Detroit News reported. Bischoff admitted that he tried to obtain $931,000 in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The loans were earmarked to cover payroll and other expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At least nine of the loan applications contained false information, including the costs of payroll, business expenses, and the number of employees. To help secure the PPP loans, Bischoff also submitted multiple fabricated tax documents and fraudulently used another person’s personal identifying information to secure $593,590 and submitted false IRS forms, documents state.
“The defendant’s criminal history is troubling,” prosecutors argued in court documents. “There is a clear pattern here. Bischoff … frequently exploits his various pizza chain businesses to defraud others and enrich himself. “
In addition to his prison sentence, Bischoff was ordered to serve three years of supervised release, and to pay $593,590 in restitution and a $5,000 fine.
- Macomb pizza baron bound for prison in pandemic fraud case [The Detroit News]