Former West Linn dentist charged with stealing millions in COVID-19 relief
The U.S. Attorney's Office has charged a 43-year-old West Linn man with fraudulently obtaining nearly $8 million in COVID-19 relief funds and using the money for personal expenses.
Salwan Adjaj, who practiced endodontics in Sherwood, Clackamas and Portland but had his license suspended by the Oregon Board of Dentistry in 2020, was recently charged with aggravated identity theft and wire fraud.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon, beginning in March 2021 Adjaj submitted dozens of fraudulent loan applications to the Small Business Administration. This was part of an attempt to obtain Economic Impact Disaster Loan funds, which were provided through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
"Adjaj used the names and employer identification numbers (EIN) of fictitious business entities on the fraudulent EIDL applications," the press release stated. "He further provided false information about the business start dates, number of employees and locations, and the identities of the purported applicants and business owners."
Though he used other people's names, he used his personal home address as the business mailing address on the applications.
The Small Business Administration rejected most of Adjaj's loan applications, but the former dentist then allegedly turned to another pandemic relief program: the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
The fund, aimed at helping bars and restaurants forced to close during the pandemic, was part of the American Rescue Plan Act.
"In May 2021, Adjaj submitted three RRF applications for restaurants allegedly located in Sarasota, Miami, and Daytona Beach, Florida," the press release stated. "Like his fraudulent EIDL applications, Adjaj's RRF applications contained false business information and all listed his personal residence as the business mailing address."
The U.S. Attorney's Office noted these applications were more successful than the ones Adjaj submitted to the Small Business Administration, and he was able to obtain nearly $8 million in government relief funds.
Adjaj was reportedly arrested yesterday, Dec. 14, for violating pretrial release agreements. On Wednesday, Dec. 15, U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug announced Adjaj will be detained pending further court proceedings.
The allegations of fraud are not the first time Adjaj has come under scrutiny.
After opening his first dental practice in Sherwood in 2006, Ajdaj was reprimanded by the Oregon Board of Dentistry in 2015 for failing to perform weekly tests of sanitization equipment at his practices in Sherwood and Portland.
In 2020, the board suspended his license and is still looking into multiple alleged instances of misconduct.
According to records from the Oregon Board of Dentistry, in 2020 Adjaj ordered large quantities of controlled substances including "anabolic steroids from domestic and international retailers for personal use and distribution."
The board also alleged that from 2016 to 2020, he practiced dentistry under the influence of a controlled substance which was not prescribed to him.
According to the order for Adjaj's license suspension, the board received notice on Aug. 5, 2020, that Adjaj was practicing dentistry under the influence of mind-altering substances while multiple bottles of prescription drugs were visible in his open, personal backpack.
On the same day, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office searched his dental office and home, finding multiple bottles of controlled substances — which Adjaj did not have a prescription for — in non-controlled prescription bottles . He admitted that day to distributing anabolic steroids for cash and purchasing and using Diazepam, a sedative, without a prescription. The board's records did not specify which of Adjaj's practices were the site of the alleged offenses.
Adjaj's other practices included Creekside Endodontics in Clackamas and PDX Endodontics in Sherwood, according to the board.
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