Before they stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, sending senators and congressmen into hiding for fear for their lives, some of the rebels took money to help with COVID-19 allocated by Congress a few months earlier.
The Federal Small Business Administration has guaranteed nearly $ 800 billion in payroll loan (PPP) loans, which should help 11 million U.S. businesses survive the severe economic consequences caused by the pandemic. Most of these loans – about $ 675 billion – have been forgiven.
Of the more than 300,000 loans in New Jersey, about 222,000 have been forgiven, and the total amount of forgiveness is just under $ 20 billion, according to data collected and analyzed by ProPublica, which tracked PPP loans.
At least four New Jersey-linked individuals who received this federal aid are now facing criminal charges in connection with the January 6 uprising.
One of those who received loans stands out.
On. January 8, 2021 The SBA has forgiven a $ 52,000 PPP loan to a company called Lebanese Connection LLC, headed by George Tanias, who was born and raised in New Jersey and now lives in Morgantown, West Virginia. It was there that he owned and operated a small failed sandwich shop.
The loan was approved on May 21, 2020, a few days after Tanios filed for bankruptcy in Chapter 7. (Bankruptcy was terminated in April 2021.)
Tanios posted on his website how his parents opened their first restaurant when they moved to the US from Lebanon in 1980, and that he was inspired uncle who had the famous “Trizavoz” at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.
Forgiveness of the loan for George Tanios
The loan was forgiven just two days after the Capitol riot on January 6, in which Tanios was charged with a felony for assaulting Congress in an attempt to overturn President Joe Biden’s election. Tanios was also charged with Julian Eli Hatter, a lifelong friend who accompanied Tanios to Washington on January 6th. Hatter also received assistance in connection with the COVID-19 SBA – $ 20,000 from two loans in case of natural disasters related to economic damage (EIDL).
Forgiveness of the loan to Tanias also came just a day after the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Siknik, who was also born and raised in Jersey, who died of a stroke after a day of hand-to-hand combat at the forefront of the uprising.
The connection between the three men will not become apparent until March 14, when the U.S. Department of Justice accused Tanios and Hatter of attacking Siknik with the help of a bear that day near the Capitol Building.
“Give me this bear,” Hatter allegedly told Tanias as they stood on the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace on Jan. 6, according to court documents. “Wait, hold on, not yet, not yet … it’s too early,” Tanios replied, according to court documents.
Since then, federal authorities have released videos in which Hatter sprays Siknik and two other officers. Prosecutors say the two men timed the attack on officers “to coincide with other rioters’ efforts to forcibly remove barriers to bicycle racks that prevented rioters from approaching the Capitol building.”
It was originally thought that the attack could have caused or at least contributed to Siknik’s death, but A forensic expert later concluded that the bear spray did not cause the officer’s death..
Julian Eli Hatter
Also on January 8, Hatter posted a long statement on Facebook, praise President Trump. “Call me a fool, a racist, a super-distributor or part of a basket of miserable people. I don’t care! God bless Donald Trump, the best, most invaluable president in US history. “
Like Tanios, Hatter owned and operated food outlets – he had Frutta Bowls franchises – in colleges. The last house was in College Station, Pennsylvania, and before that in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In 2020, he received two loans of $ 10,000 each franchise. Since then, both have been closed, as has the Tanios Restaurant in West Virginia.
It was a former officer who first reported the FBI about Tanios ’identity and pointed to the“ Sandwich U ”shirt on which he was spotted on January 6th. The officer also sent Tanya a selfie to the FBI, published that day from the Capitol. The tip-off introduced agents to Kenneth Dufalai, a former business partner of Tanios, who sued Tanios, claiming he stole $ 435,000 from a joint operation.
“I’m surprised it took him so long to make a fool of himself.” Dufala told The Daily Beast last year. “I can’t imagine how many of his former employees and fraternities are feeling his apparent downfall now. He was easily the most hated man in Morgantown. “
In addition to the PPP loan of $ 52,000, Tanios also received a $ 150,000 loan from the federal government in July 2020, which, unlike the PPP loan, is unforgivable.
The state of the disaster loan is not available in public databases, and the SBA does not comment on individual transactions, but it was not listed in Tanios’ bankruptcy petition.
One is in custody, the other is free on bail
Both men are awaiting trial; Hatter remains in custody and Tanios is released on bail.
At least two other defendants with ties to New Jersey, who are now charged after the attack on the Capitol, also received assistance from the federal government in connection with COVID-19.
Roberto Minuta, a January 6 Hawkstown resident who now lives in Texas, is part of one of the most high-profile criminal cases to date. He is among 11 members of the Guardians of the Oath militia – including group leader Scott Rhodes – accused of the most serious charges of rioting during the January 6 siege.
More than $ 200,000 in federal loans for Minuta
The minute was ensuring the safety of Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime political adviser, on the morning of Jan. 6, before he drove to the Capitol and stormed inside. Federal officials say all of these people were conspirators to seize the Capitol long before Jan. 6.
Scott Kevin Fairlam is serving 41 months
Scott Kevin Fairlam, a gym owner from North Jersey who was thrown into a bar and a former MMA fighter, is the first defendant to plead guilty to assaulting a U.S. Capitol police officer during the January 6 uprising. He is now served 41 months in prisonthe second longest sentence so far for participating in the attack.
According to the FBI, Fairlamb was filmed on video as he punches and kicks a police officer. Fairlamb also posted on Facebook a video from the day he said, “What are patriots doing? We will disarm them and then we will storm the Capitol. ” Ltd. Fairlamb Fit received a a $ 53,300 disaster relief loan and Scott Fairlamb received Fr. PPP loan for $ 20,833.