GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kentwood man pled guilty Thursday to using government COVID-19 business loans for his own personal expenses.
Kurtis James Vandermolen, 50, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering. He could face up to 40 years in prison with three years of supervised release and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Vandermolen has a criminal justice degree from Grand Valley State University, a ministry called Grace Changes Everything and a couple of self-published books. He had no comment for News 8 while outside of the courtroom on Thursday.
In July 2020, Vandermolen applied for a government loan through the Paycheck Protection Program. His application was for a fake company called Breakout Strategies Corporation, which Vandermolen alleged had been in business since January of that year and had 11 employees, court documents say. He was granted a loan of $100,641, which was put into an account in the name of the fake company.
Prosecutors say that Vandermolen used the money for personal expenses, most notably in September 2020. That’s when he withdrew $18,752 from the Breakout Strategies Corporation account at Consumers Credit Union to pay for a 2010 BMW convertible, according to court documents.
In 2021, court documents say Vandermolen applied for another loan through PPP for the same company by submitting fake bank statements, tax records and wage and hour records. He was again granted a loan, this time for $69,361. Court documents say that Vandermolen used that money to pay for other personal expenses like a Florida wedding in May 2021.
“This was federal aid that was intended to support our country’s critical small businesses,
not to buy luxury cars or pay for wedding expenses,” U.S. Attorney Mark Totten said in a release. “My office will continue to aggressively prosecute COVID-19 relief fraud using all available remedies.”
In May of this year, Vandermolen filed for his latest bankruptcy, listing his liabilities at $866,000, including nearly $360,000 in student loans, $19,000 owed to the IRS and $240,000 in business loans.
He told the judge he’s been on disability since 2009 for mental health issues he’s long battled. Before pleading guilty, he assured the judge that he is competent and fully aware of his rights, despite his health issues.
Vandermolen is out on bond awaiting sentencing late March.
— News 8’s Susan Samples contributed to this report.