Shepherd restaurant owner pleads guilty after buying vintage cars with CARES Act money

The owner of the Feedlot Steakhouse in Shepherd admitted he received about $75,000 in COVID-19 relief loans from the Small Business Administration, but instead of putting the money into his businesses he used it to buy vintage automobiles as an investment.

Michael Eugene Bolte, 70, pleaded guilty to theft of government money, property or records, a misdemeanor. Bolte faces a maximum of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine and one year of supervised release.

As part of a plea agreement struck with the U.S. Attorney’s office, a higher charge will be dismissed at sentencing and Bolte will be responsible for full restitution at $74,800. Bolte also agreed to a criminal forfeiture of the vintage automobiles purchased, which include a 1916 Studebaker, a 1929 Franklin, a 1939 Ford Deluxe and a 1941 Ford Super Deluxe.

“Federal programs, like the one at issue here, don’t work when people cheat,” said U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson in a press release. “If someone like Bolte applies for federal program funds intended to help businesses survive the pandemic, but buys classic cars instead, that deprives other deserving applicants of the opportunity to use the funds.”

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