A Maple Grove businessman has pleaded guilty to fraudulently applying for nearly $10 million in federal pandemic relief loans and misusing the $1.7 million that he was granted for personal purposes including the installation of a $64,000 swimming pool at his home.
Aditya Raj Sharma, 47, admitted Wednesday in federal court in Minneapolis to one count of wire fraud in connection with repeatedly seeking loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was started in response to economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
Law enforcement seized nearly $675,000 in fraudulently obtained proceeds from bank accounts controlled by Sharma. As part of the plea agreement, these seized funds will be forfeited by Sharma to the United States.
According to court documents:
In November 2019, Sharma was removed as an officer and fired from Crosscode Inc., a cloud-based software development company originally headquartered in Maple Grove, that he founded in 2015. He then created three separate technology companies from May to July 2020: Kloudgaze Inc., Neoforma LLC and Mokume LLC.
From April through August of that year, Sharma applied for 16 PPP loans, totaling $9.6 million, from 10 lenders by submitting fraudulent applications under the names of his various technology companies. He submitted fabricated supporting records, made false statements about the number of employees he had and the amount of payroll expenses he incurred, and he made false statements about the relevant corporate entities and intended use of the prospective loans.
Lenders approved three of the applications and deposited $1.77 million into bank accounts controlled by Sharma. Rather than using the money for permissible business expenses, Sharma paid off unrelated legal debts, funded new business ventures and transferred about $14,000 to a financial account in India. He also paid for home improvements, including $24,600 in landscaping and the installation of a $64,300 backyard pool.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482