ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A Chili man was sentenced to nearly five years in prison Thursday for COVID relief fraud.

According to prosecutors, Michel Rech applied for Payroll Protection Program loans for his two companies, Guardian of Humanity, Inc. and Eclipse. Rech applied for eight loans totaling more than $880,000. He received three loans totaling $277,500.

Rech, 52, claimed on the load applications that his companies paid wages to employees and qualified for the PPP loans. Investigators eventually discovered the companies did not have any employees, and Rech had been collecting unemployment benefits from New York State.

Rech took his $277,500 in loans and removed money from the bank in withdrawals never exceeding $10,000 so they were not reported to the federal government. The IRS found some of the money in two safes in Rech’s house. The rest was in his bank account.

Rech was convicted of 37 counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. All $277,500 was returned to the federal government after his trial. He was sentenced to serve 57 months in prison.