A federal jury found former Olympic speedskater Allison Baver guilty Thursday of federal charges that accused her of acquiring a $10 million Paycheck Protection Program loan to bankroll an entertainment company that prosecutors said had no employees or payroll at the time she applied.
Baver was convicted in Salt Lake City late Thursday of two counts of making false statements designed to influence a bank, one count of money laundering and one count of contempt. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 30, court records indicate.
Federal prosecutors said Baver, proprietor of Allison Baver Entertainment, used thousands of Paycheck Protection Program funds to pay off personal HOA dues, as well as pay for travel expenses, food and “other non-payroll costs.”
The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to offer small businesses forgivable loans to help offset costs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though prosecutors said in court filings that Baver’s entertainment company was a real entity, they argued none of the company’s planned entertainment projects were “in production or even pre-production” when she applied for the loans in early 2020, and to date, not one has been produced.
Baver submitted eight Paycheck Protection Program loan applications for her entertainment company in the early months of the pandemic, and each sought $10 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Utah.
The applications falsely stated that the company’s average monthly payroll varied from $4 million to more than $4.7 million, though the company had no monthly payroll — and did not have any employees, despite the loan applications accounting for 430 employees, prosecutors contended.
“Baver’s false statements influenced Meridian Bank to fund her requested $10 million PPP loan,” Utah’s U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement. “After receiving the loan proceeds, she transferred $150,000 to invest in a movie,” which prosecutors argued amounted to money laundering.
Baver was initially indicted in December 2021 on nine counts that accused her of lying to obtain the $10 million loan. She faced the separate count of contempt after prosecutors said she did not produce records in response to a grand jury subpoena.
Ahead of the jury trial, prosecutors last week moved to dismiss six of the counts Baver faced related to PPP loan applications. Baver previously pleaded not guilty to all charges filed against her.
Nearly 51,000 Utah businesses and nonprofits got loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, totaling more than $5 billion overall. Baver’s company was one of just 41 among the 6,737 loans that was $5 million or more.
In July 2020, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that little was known about Allison Baver Entertainment. A company with 430 employees in Utah would rank as one of the state’s bigger employers in the state, but at the time, The Tribune reported, the Utah Office of Economic Development and the Utah Film Commission were not aware of the company.
In an email to The Tribune that year, Baver wrote that her company had “several projects in development” with each requiring a “substantial number of employees,” though she did not specify what those projects were.
After The Tribune published its report, Baver filed a notice that she intended to sue the news organization. As of Friday, she had not served The Tribune with a lawsuit.