Former Utah State student club president charged with misusing $300K in COVID-19 relief funds
Apr 6, 2023, 3:04 PM
(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — A former Utah State University student is facing federal charges for allegedly misusing $300,000 of small business COVID-19 economic relief loans for himself.
Mubarak Sulaiman Ukashat, 36, was living in Taylorsville when he committed the alleged fraud. A news release from the U.S. Department of Justice said Ukashat is a foreign national and a former president of the Utah State University Student Association Muslim Students Club.
Ukashat submitted four fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications between June 2020 and July 2020 to the U.S. Small Business Association, the indictment says. These loans were meant for small businesses seeking COVID-19 economic relief.
The Department of Justice said Ukashat used the names of four people “he had no connection to” for the loans and directed the proceeds to the Muslim Students Club’s bank account at America First Credit Union, which he had custody and control of. The funds were then wired to a different bank account at America First Credit Union that he owned and held jointly with a relative, the department said.
“In total, the former USU graduate student allegedly applied for, illegally obtained, and misused over $300,000 in EIDL funds, for his own personal expenses,” the Department of Justice’s news release says.
Ukashat used the funds to purchase a $45,900 GMC Yukon in cash, according to the Department of Justice. He also paid “$27,000 to electronic retailers; $21,000 to pay off a car loan; $20,000 in apparent debt payments; $10,000 in earnest money to buy a house; $5,200 for college expenses; other cash withdrawals, wires, and miscellaneous household purchases; and the wiring of approximately $15,000 to someone in Nigeria and $20,000 to someone in Dubai,” the release says.
Ukashat is scheduled for an initial court appearance Friday at the Orrin G. Hatch United States District Courthouse in Salt Lake City for investigation of four counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and two counts of money laundering.