LEONARDTOWN, Md. – When the global pandemic struck, one of the country’s most notable economy-saving efforts came through the “Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).” Established under the CARES Act and administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the loans were designed to provide small businesses a life preserver to help pay their payroll, rents, utilities, and more.
But unfortunately, many people have been charged and convicted for falsifying loan applications and using funds for unidentified purposes. Court documents obtained by TheBayNet.com show that the Chief Judge of the Orphan’s Court in St. Mary’s County, Michael White, may not have told the truth on a PPP loan application back in April of 2020.
In a loan application for “Woodville Pines LLC,” Michael and George White were seeking $28,210 specifically to fund payroll expenses for two employees during the first offering of PPP funding.
The Woodville Pines LLC was formed on June 18, 2019, with Michael White recognized as the authorized representative and Daniel A. Slade acting as the registered agent. Some may recall in July of 2020 when the business, located at 15125 Woodville Road in Waldorf, applied for a special exception to use the property for “social, fraternal clubs and lodges, union halls” and similar uses.
On the loan application, Michael is noted to be a 50% owner of the company, along with his son George White who is a Maryland State Trooper that owns the other half. One question that is asked of the loan applicants pertains to ownership interests in other companies.
Michael, acting as the authorized representative of Woodville Pines, said that neither himself nor George owned any other businesses. They attached no addendums, as would be required, to disclose additional business interests.
He would go on to sign the application and initial the certificates on the following page, one of which indicates all information in the application was “true and accurate in all material respects,” and recognizes that false statements are punishable by law.
This loan application appears to contradict the financial disclosures that Michael submitted while on the Orphan’s Court in St. Mary’s County. After being provided with a copy of his 2019-2021 annual disclosures by the Maryland Judiciary, Judge White claimed to own 150 shares of Compass Marketing (25% ownership) when the Woodville Pines PPP application was submitted.
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According to the Maryland Business Express website, Michael White additionally owns “W-7 Enterprises.” This entity which has been operating since 2007, is designated for “general business.” This company was also not disclosed on his financial disclosures within the last three years.
The PPP loan has since been forgiven in full by the SBA.
It is unknown if the SBA has opened an investigation into these competing documents. However, an SBA representative says that the first step toward that would be a personal or anonymous report made to the SBA’s Inspector General through their website.
“There is not so much an increase in fraudulent applications, as it is an increase in reports of suspected fraud. The public’s assistance in reporting areas of concern is crucial to this process,” the SBA’s public affairs specialist for Maryland, Rachel Howard, said in an email. “SBA, through its Office of Inspector General, is fully committed to investigating all incidents of possible fraud to protect the interests of the federal government and our nation’s taxpayers.”
George White, a Maryland State Trooper, was also noted as one of the parties who signed off on the PPP loan once approved with the Community Bank of the Chesapeake. George did not sign the PPP borrower application form, as Michael was serving as the authorized representative for the joint entity.
Elena Russo, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Police, was asked if the department could compel George to answer why these documents appear to contradict each other. Russo said the State Police would be unable to comment on those inquiries about Woodville Pines and its ownership.
“Before a trooper is hired, an extensive background investigation is conducted to ensure the best candidates are hired to become Maryland state troopers. Many of the allegations have been investigated and subsequently determined to be unfounded,” Russo told TheBayNet.com. “Based on these new allegations, the Maryland Department of State Police is determining whether an additional investigation is warranted.”
Additionally, Woodville Pines LLC was not recognized on Michael’s financial disclosures until the 2020 filing year, a year after it formed. The land presumably where it is operated in Waldorf was disclosed as one of his holdings.
On the State Ethics Commission’s website, a frequently asked questions page explains that financial disclosures must be submitted under oath, swearing under the penalty of perjury. One might assume the same applies for an elected Orphan’s Court Judge, but after posing the question to them, it remained unclear.
“Pursuant to Section 5-104 of the Public Ethics Law, the Commission on Judicial Disabilities, the Judicial Ethics Committee or another body designated by the Court of Appeals administers and implements Subtitle 5 (conflicts of interest) and Subtitle 6 (financial disclosure) of the Public Ethics Law for State officials of the Judicial Branch,” State Ethics Commission Executive Director Jennifer Allgair explained in an email. She would add that the Commission for Judicial Disabilities would likely have a better answer.
A request for clarification was submitted to the Commission for Judicial Disabilities but was not returned by the time of publication.
When asked about the loan application and financial disclosures, Michael White and his most recent legal representation did not return our request for comment. If at any time in the future TheBayNet.com receives a response, it will be added as an update to this story.
Michael White is currently filed with the Maryland Board of Elections, seeking re-election to his position on the St. Mary’s County Orphan’s Court.
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