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Starkville man guilty of defrauding $6 million in COVID-19 relief funds

Starkville native Christopher Paul Lick pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of wire fraud after defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of more than $6 million in COVID-19 relief loans.

According to court documents, Lick, a small business owner, filed false loan applications for the PPP with several banks between April 2020 and September 2020, overstating the number of employees and payroll expenses on the forms.

Later, he admitted to using the funds for personal expenses including purchasing a $1 million home, vehicles, and investments in the stock market.

“The amount of PPP fraud and EIDL loan fraud committed in this district and nationwide is staggering,” stated United States Attorney Clay Joyner. “The CARES Act loan programs were intended to help small businesses and families struggling to survive during a difficult pandemic. Unfortunately, far too many individuals like the defendant abused these programs for their own personal benefit. Today’s guilty plea is a significant step in bringing to justice those who abused these programs, but it is only the first step. Our office will continue to prosecute violations of the CARES Act—large or small—in an effort to recover as many stolen taxpayer dollars as possible.”

Lick is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Glen Davidson on August 12 for his sentencing where he is expected to face up to 30 years in federal prison.

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