Suburban restaurant owner allegedly took $170K in PPP loans after laying off staff

A suburban restaurant owner allegedly took a $176,000 government coronavirus stimulus loan a month after laying off staff and being evicted from her Elgin restaurant’s location.

Melissa Turasky, owner of Gifford’s Bar and Restaurant, used some of the stolen money from the Paycheck Protection Program to make payments on her credit card, federal prosecutors said in an indictment unsealed Friday.

Turasky, 43, was evicted March 2 from her restaurant’s location, 2300 Bushwood Dr., and had laid off all her employees by the end of the month, the indictment states.

Yet, on April 10, Turasky applied for the PPP loan from a bank and lied to make it seem her business was open and operating, prosecutors said.

The two-count indictment charges her with bank fraud and making false statements to a financial institution.

PPP loans have strict rules limiting them to be used to retain workers, maintain payroll or make mortgage interest payments, Iease payments and utility payments. The U.S. attorney’s office is seeking forfeiture of assets illegally acquired with the loans.

Turasky, who could not be reached for comment, is the second Chicago-area businessperson charged with fraud in the PPP loan program. In June, Evanston businessman Rahul Shah applied for $441,000 in loans after falsely exaggerating his payroll, prosecutors allege.