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Montana restaurant owner sentenced for COVID relief fraud

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Posted at 2:16 PM, Apr 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-13 17:59:42-04

Michael Eugene Bolte, who owns the Feedlot Steakhouse in Shepherd, was sentenced in federal court in Billings on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, after pleading guilty to theft of government money, property, or records.

Prosecutors alleged that on April 1, 2020, Bolte applied to the Small Business Administration for a business loan under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

On May 24, 2020, Bolte signed a loan agreement for $74,800 and expressly acknowledged the EIDL loan would be used solely as working capital for his business.

Bolte’s intent at the time of signing for the loan was to buy vintage automobiles as an investment, and not as working capital for his business.

Eleven days after receiving the loan, Bolte wrote a check for $75,000 to buy four vintage vehicles. The SBA would not have approved or funded Bolte’s loan had it known Bolte’s intended and actual use of the funds.

Bolte, 70 years old, pleaded guilty in November 2021, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters sentenced Bolte to three years of probation and ordered him to pay $76,989 in restitution to the SBA.

In addition, the government previously seized and Bolte forfeited four vintage automobiles purchased with the money: a 1916 Studebaker, a 1929 Franklin, a 1939 Ford Deluxe, and a 1941 Ford Super Deluxe.