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COVID loan thief gets probation for using $150K

In World
April 17, 2024

Apr. 17—A Mercer County man has received a federal probationary sentence for using a $150,000 federal COVID-19 business loan for personal expenses, a vacation and home improvements.

Martin Meade Kobsik was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Paradise Baxter in Erie to serve three years federal probation with the first six months on house arrest.

He also was sentenced to pay $170,265.41 in restitution to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a $20,000 fine and a $100 assessment.

In May 2021, Kobsik, 42, of 1223 Jackson Center Polk Road, Stoneboro, was indicted on a felony charge of theft of government property by a federal grand jury in Erie.

On Dec. 20, 2023, he pleaded guilty before Baxter to the charge and had faced up to 10 years in federal prison.

According to court documents, federal sentencing guidelines called for a jail sentence of six to 12 months in federal prison as Kobsik had no prior criminal record.

In April 2020, Kobsik obtained a $150,000 COVID-19 Disaster Assistance Loan from the Small Business Administration, falsely representing that he needed the money to maintain his business, according to court documents. Kobsik admitted to using the loan for personal expenses, a vacation to Alaska and improvements to his home.

Kobsik’s defense attorney Sean T. Logue argued for probation in a sentencing memorandum submitted to the court prior to the sentencing.

Logue wrote that Kobsik is separated from his wife, to whom he is still legally married and with whom he shares four children. Kobsik also obtained parental rights to his wife’s child from a previous relationship and hopes to adopt his current girlfriend’s daughter. All of the children, Kobsik’s father and Kobsik’s girlfriend live at Kobsik’s home, Logue wrote.

“Mr. Kobsik has a myriad of health problems, supports numerous dependent family members, and has already lost his career as a result of the instant offense,” Logue wrote of behalf of Kobsik. “If he is incarcerated, his children will be forced to stay with their mother, who has a documented history of drug addiction and being verbally abusive toward the family. Additionally, his disabled father will be without a caregiver. When weighed against Mr. Kobsik’s conduct, these detriments are excessive and not in accordance with the interests of justice.”

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian A. Trabold, who prosecuted Kobsik, wrote in the government’s sentencing memorandum submitted to the court that Kobsik didn’t deserve probation.

“Martin Kobsik pilfered $150,000 from a government program designed to help businesses withstand the COVID epidemic,” Trabold wrote. “A probation sentence would send the decidedly wrong message that ripping off taxpayers during a national emergency will merely result in a slap on the wrist.”

“Any negative impact upon Kobsik’s family because of his crimes was entirely foreseeable and that impact was ignored by Kobsik.

“He (Kobsik) defrauded a government program during a pandemic so he could put an addition on his house, take a vacation and make personal expenditures. Such conduct hardly deserves leniency,” Trabold wrote.

Trabold also pointed Kobsik had “paid exactly zero restitution to date and his PSIR (presentence investigation report) indicates he has thousands in a Roth IRA and a home worth $400,000.”

The FBI and Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation that led to Kobsik’s indictment in May 2021, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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