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Montana man pleads guilty to pandemic relief loan fraud

| November 30, 2021 7:00 AM

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The owner of an eastern Montana restaurant pleaded guilty Tuesday to spending $75,000 from a federal COVID-19 relief loan to buy vintage automobiles rather than using it as working capital for his business, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Tuesday.

Michael Eugene Bolte, 70, of Shepherd, pleaded guilty to theft of government money, property or records. The misdemeanor charge carries a sentence of up to a year in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Bolte signed loan documents in May 2020 stating the money would be used as working capital for the Feedlot Steakhouse in Shepherd, court records said.

Under the plea agreement, Bolte would be responsible for $74,800 in restitution and have to forfeit the automobiles, including a 1916 Studebaker, a 1929 Franklin, a 1939 Ford Deluxe and a 1941 Ford Super Deluxe, officials said.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters scheduled sentencing for April 13, 2022.