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Monetary crime: The Montana steakhouse proprietor admits he used a $ 75,000 COVID-19 catastrophe reduction mortgage to purchase basic vehicles

He drove to jail on the highway.

A Montana steakhouse owner pleaded guilty to misusing the COVID-19 aid he received for his restaurant to buy several vintage cars – including a 1916 Studebaker.

Prosecutors say 70-year-old Michael Bolte, who runs the Feedlot Steakhouse in Shepherd, Montana, received a $ 75,000 disaster relief loan from the Small Business Administration in May 2020, but used the money to buy four classic ones instead Cars to buy.

SBA disaster loans are only intended to be used as working capital for a business.

But Bolte is said to have been in talks since February of this year to buy several old cars from an estate because he saw them as an investment opportunity, prosecutors said.

Eleven days after receiving the government check for his restaurant, Bolte bought four cars from the property for $ 75,000. Vehicles included the Studebaker, a 1929 Franklin, a 1939 Ford Deluxe, and a 1941 Ford Super Deluxe.

"Federal programs like this one don't work when people are cheating," said Leif Johnson, US attorney for Montana. "If someone like Bolte applies for federal program funds to help companies survive the pandemic but instead buys classic cars, that deprives other worthy applicants of the opportunity to use the funds."

A Bolte lawyer did not immediately respond to a comment.

Bolte opened the Feedlot Steakhouse in 1997 – a 4,600-square-foot restaurant, bar, and casino that looks like a log cabin in the 1950s.

As part of his guilty guilty plea, Bolte agreed to revoke the vehicles to the government. If convicted in April, he faces up to a year in federal prison and a fine of $ 100,000.

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