Reprinted from The Philadelphia Inquirer, Front Page, Oct. 18, 2020.
Thinking about stealing the government loan money you received in pandemic help?
Before you do, listen to Jeff Grant’s story.
After his opioid addiction, his theft of U.S. loan funds, and a federal prison sentence, Grant’s life as a lawyer and business professional was over.
But according to him, his new life was just beginning. And for small business owners feeling desperate — enough to steal — he’s created a safe place to talk anonymously and seek guidance.
Based online, the group attracts many business owners and white-collar workers from Philadelphia.
“Philadelphia has the second largest concentration of our support group members,” Grant said, including Seth Williams, former Philadelphia district attorney, who Grant says attends regularly. Williams was released from prison earlier this year after serving time for his 2017 bribery conviction.
Grant was convicted after fraudulently obtaining $247,000 in federal aid soon the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, falsely claiming to have had a law office in lower Manhattan that had been shuttered by the disaster. He used the money to pay down personal credit cards. Meanwhile, his pain medication addiction ramped up, as did his marital problems.
“In 2002, I resigned my law license and started on the road to recovery. But it all caught up with me about two years later, when I was arrested” for misrepresenting information on his loan application. He served almost 14 months at a federal prison for wire fraud and money laundering.