On Wednesday, I wrote an article about Gary Berube, the fella who writes the right-wing stink letters to the editor to all our state’s papers pretty frequently. I wrote about the hypocrisy of him criticizing the proposal to forgive college loans in a recent letter to The Forum when he had taken a free $20,000 PPP loan forgiveness from the government himself.
Turns out he’s even more of a hypocrite than I thought.
An old friend from the East Coast read the story and put a comment at the bottom of my blog asking if there are two Gary Berube’s in Bismarck/Mandan because there were two loans issued to a fellow named Gary Berube, one with a Mandan address and one with a Bismarck address.
He even sent along this link, showing both were paid by the government. Well, I’ll be darned.
I’m away from home and didn’t have access to a Bismarck phone book, so I went Googling around the Internet trying to get to the bottom of that, and as best I can tell, there’s only one Gary Berube. (I guess we can be thankful for that.) But he has two addresses, one at 2408 Ninth Ave S.E., Mandan, and the other at 419 Riverwood Drive, #102, Bismarck. If I was home I’d do a drive-by to check them out, but instead I took a look at Google Maps (isn’t Google a wonderful thing?) and it looks like the Mandan address is in a residential neighborhood and the Bismarck address in a commercial district. Nothing unusual about that for a businessman.
I’m a little puzzled about why he used different addresses — was he trying to hide something — but what I learned solved another puzzle for me.
The one I found earlier Wednesday was issued in 2021, the second round of PPP loans. I thought that was strange because the rules for the program say you have to have had one in the first round in 2020 in order to qualify for the second round. Turns out that was bad journalism on my part — I should have gone digging, and I’d have found out there was, indeed, a first one. This website says, among other things “PPP now allows certain eligible borrowers that previously received a PPP loan to apply for a Second Draw PPP loan with the same general loan terms as their First Draw PPP loan.” But I’ve been a little under the weather and haven’t been paying enough attention to details in a lot of the things I’ve been doing lately. I apologize to my readers for that.
So sure enough, Choice Bank sent Gary a check for $20,400 to his Bismarck address April 15, 2020 and another for $20,488 to his Mandan address March 26, 2021. The federal government paid off the banks with interest later. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But like I said Wednesday, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
So that’s the rest of the story. I don’t know this Berube fella, but I have to admire his ingenuity and his ability to maneuver through government programs, even though he professes to really not like the government. Helps to have a good banker, I guess.
I’m sorry I didn’t get you the full story Wednesday. I’ll try to do better in the future. I think there’s probably going to be some more of these PPP nightmare stories coming.
And don’t get me wrong. I thought the PPP was a great program. It’s just that these kinds of things, done in a hurry, often with little oversight, are ripe for fraud and abuse. In response, the SBA has set up a fraud unit for reports of suspected abuse. There’s a hotline you can call the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at (800) 767-0385. Or there are a bunch of websites with links to fraud reporting forms. This one offers the best oversight, but there are others, here, here, and here. That last one even tells you how you can get paid for reporting it.
So there’s a lot of information on that. I’m not saying that I know anyone who’s committed fraud. Hypocrisy, yes, but you can’t go to jail for that.