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An Omaha man has been indicted for bank fraud in connection with a loan application to the Paycheck Protection Program for COVID-19 relief.

M.A. Yah’s case is believed to be the first of its kind in Nebraska.

According to the indictment, Yah was the director of The Heartland News, a nonprofit newspaper focused on work with the homeless that dissolved in 2019.

M.A. Yah

M.A. Yah

The business was reinstated in March 2020, after paying its biennial fee to the Secretary of State.

In court records, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Lynch said in April 2020, Yah requested a PPP loan of $100,800 to support the newspaper’s payroll and submitted a fraudulent application overstating the number of employees and payroll for the previous year.

On May 6, 2020, $100,800 in PPP funds were deposited in the newspaper’s account at an Omaha bank.

In a news release, Acting United States Attorney Jan Sharp said Yah, who is set for court next month on the allegation, could get up to 30 years of imprisonment, a $1 million fine and five years of supervised release.

In May, the U.S. Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud.

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Sharp said the Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud.

He said anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.

This case was investigated by the FBI.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger

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