It’s been a month since the Small Business Administration released its Paycheck Protection Program recipient list, and several Lenoir County business owners have expressed their concerns over possible mistakes.
Of the 93 Lenoir County businesses that received PPP loans, 17 had "zero jobs retained" listed next to their name. From a pharmacy to a workshop to a utility company to a dental practice, owners reached out to The Free Press for clarity or corrections.
One owner, Dr. Richard "Ricky" T. Carlyle, saw two red flags when he viewed the list with "zero jobs retained" and a $1 million to $2 million loan range listed next to his business, Carlyle Dental.
Carlyle said he understands that some people may feel he cheated on the application, considering he has 12 employees including himself, and three other Lenoir County dental practices fell into the $150,000 to $350,000 range. Carlyle is currently facing charges for two counts of insurance fraud and one count each of forgery and obtaining property by false pretense within the past 12 months, not related to PPP.
"If you don’t really understand what’s going on, that would be one of your thoughts. If you didn’t know what’s going on, it wouldn’t bother you," Carlyle said. "If you did know what’s going on and you had some common sense in the business world, you would know that, ‘how in the h--- did he get put in that range without lying about it?’"
A Bloomberg News analysis shows the SBA data for PPP loans released on July 6 are riddled with anomalies.
Carlyle says he received between $150,000 and $350,000 based on the number of employees through BB&T, now known as Truist Financial. The PPP is a federal program designed to save jobs during the COVID-19 crisis.
SBA public affairs specialist Gregory Grevelding said lenders may be responsible for the loan amount on the PPP list. Grevelding also said businesses were not required to provide a number of employees on the loan application, but they will have to show that to be eligible for loan forgiveness.
"Regarding the discrepancy in the reporting of the loan approval amount, perhaps what happened is that prior to disbursement the lender adjusted the amount," Grevelding said.
Shelley Miller with Truist Corporate Communications said the bank cannot speak about specific loans or client relationships.
"I can add for context that the loan amount data referenced in the SBA reports shows the initial approval amounts, and not necessarily the final disbursement amounts," Miller said. "Beyond that, we’re not in a position to comment further on data furnished by the SBA to Congress and the public."
According to Carlyle, he immediately contacted a representative at Truist in Kinston after seeing the list and high loan range. He said the representative had no answers for him.
The Free Press was unable to receive comments from any Truist branch in Kinston after multiple attempts.
"For me to fall into the $1 to $2 million range, I would have to have $5 to $10 million in annual salaries," Carlyle said. "Not a single dental office would have that much in salaries."
Carlyle said he felt "called out" when he read the information beside his dental practice, which was number seven in the list of Kinston businesses that received the most money.
"I wish I was in the $1 million to $2 million range. I wish I was," he said. "When you’re pretty much in the top billing, you know, that kind of makes you look bad. So, anybody that has any kind of sense would realize I would not be in the top six percent of the businesses in North Carolina."
Carlyle showed The Free Press a promissory note on the top of other PPP-related documents he said he received from Truist that showed the loan amount at the top left of the note. The amount was in the $150,000 to $350,000 range.
One Lenoir County business owner showed his document to The Free Press from Truist for comparison that showed his loan amount between $350,000 and $1 million in the middle of a paragraph in an email from email@example.com.
Carlyle declined to allow The Free Press to further inspect the document, make a copy or otherwise verify its authenticity. He would not allow The Free Press to view any documents that were lying under the top one. Carlyle also declined to send a copy of the promissory note with his personal and account information redacted.
"That’s just a computer generated document that they send you. You sign it and send it back to them," Carlyle said. "So, it’s not a real complex process to what it went through to get there. That’s what it is.
"I can’t even remember the actual application and what it actually said on it. I went through it so quick and did it."
According to NC Department of Insurance Assistant Director of Affairs Barry Smith, Carlyle was charged with two counts of insurance fraud and one count each of forgery and obtaining property by false pretense and was served the arrest warrants on May 17 and Oct. 11, 2019.
Following his arrest, Carlyle was released on a $20,000 bond, according to the North Carolina Department of Insurance, Criminals Investigations. Carlyle was not processed into the jail and there is no mugshot.
According to Lenoir County public court records, Carlyle is still facing pending charges. His case has been moved to Superior Court, and no court dates have been scheduled at this time due to the coronavirus crisis.
Carlyle said his dental practice closed at the end of March amid the pandemic and reopened in the middle of May. He said he applied for the loan in June and fell within the $150,000 to $350,000 range, considering his 11 employees.
"If you have eight to 10 employees, that’s where you would fall," Carlyle said. "Unless you’re paying your people $200,000 each, then you wouldn’t have qualified. It’s impossible for a dental office to fall in that range."
He said the loan helped Carlyle Dental get "over the hump" and allowed the business to meet payroll rather than waiting three months for an insurance company to pay.
Carlyle said the SBA or Truist determined how much money he would receive and that he was unaware of the total amount he would be given.
"I wasn’t in the $1 million to $2 million range, and I definitely retained all my employees," Carlyle said. "So, (there are) ones who think it’s a mistake or I cheated on the actual loan itself."