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Borrower Beware: Defending PPP Loans from After-the-Fact Government Scrutiny

(341 reviews)

Produced on September 28, 2020

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Course Information

Time 1h
Difficulty Intermediate

Course Description

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was a lifeline to many companies faced with the existential threat of an unknown pandemic. But the prospect of “free money” by loan forgiveness comes with ever-evolving strings – including the possibility of an audit and scrutiny by federal agencies with the jurisdiction and political will to investigate borrowers’ eligibility and use of funds.

In this program, Hodgson Russ attorneys Jason Markel, Reena Dutta, and Ben Zuffranieri, Jr. will discuss PPP risks and strategies you can implement now to prepare to protect yourself or your company against the inevitable scrutiny, litigation, and potential criminal investigations that some borrowers may soon face. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Review the implications to borrowers of after-the-fact changes to the PPP
  2. Assess how hindsight determinations of borrower ineligibility or misuse of funds can lead to loss of forgiveness and personal liability
  3. Adequately plan before submitting a forgiveness application
  4. Identify the risks and consequences to borrowers of SBA loan reviews and audits
  5. Discuss whether the SBA’s appeal process may be stacked against borrowers
  6. Describe critically considerations surrounding the “necessity certification” and interpreting its meaning and import
  7. Manage uncertainties surrounding how the SBA and government will enforce and audit loans
  8. Comply with recommendations for documenting the impacts of the pandemic on your business
  9. Evaluate potential borrower and individual criminal liabilities under the False Claims Act and other statutes
  10. Analyze criminal enforcement parallels and comparisons to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)
  11. Avoid potential criminal liability under the PPP Program
  12. Collect and preserve essential documents and evidence now
  13. Accurately certify borrowers on the loan application and forgiveness application
  14. Strategize to protect borrowers from governmental scrutiny 

Credit Information

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Reena Dutta

Hodgson Russ LLP

Reena specializes in helping clients – in a variety of industries – comply with complicated legal regimes to avoid unwanted and unwarranted government scrutiny.  Reena has a background in white collar criminal defense and has extensive experience representing clients in connection with civil and criminal government investigations and prosecutions, most notably in relation to:

  • The Federal False Claims Act
  • The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
  • Tax Fraud
  • Drug Offenses
  • Environmental Violations
  • Contract Disputes and Civil Fraud Claims

Reena’s experience encompasses representing clients in the financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and real estate industries. In particular, and due to her work with the federal and state False Claims Acts, Reena has developed substantive expertise in navigating the complicated legal regimes governing the provision of health care.

Moreover, her background in litigating against, and also working with, the government gives her valuable insight in counseling clients on compliance and corporate governance matters and maintaining cooperative and helpful relationships with government regulators.  Reena has also assisted companies in conducting internal investigations and in responding to, and addressing, government-initiated investigations, including responding to grand jury subpoenas, civil investigative demands, and other forms of legal process.  She has also helped individuals navigate the complicated subpoena process when they unwittingly find themselves involved in a legal dispute. 

Reena has extensive trial and appellate court experience, ensuring that clients have a strong and effective advocate when litigation becomes necessary. She has authored and presented on various topics relating to the False Claims Act and business crimes.

Reena received her certification as a Certified Professional Compliance Officer (CPCO) from the AAPC, the world’s largest training and credentialing organization for the business of healthcare. The certification evidences Reena’s understanding of the key requirements needed to effectively develop and maintain a healthcare compliance program. CPCO’s have demonstrated knowledge of OIG compliance guidance for individual and small group physician practices, clinical laboratories, and third party billing companies; key healthcare fraud and abuse laws; other healthcare-related laws including HIPAA, EMTALA, OSHA, and CLIA; internal investigations and government investigative activities, and various risk areas.  

Prior to joining Hodgson Russ, Reena was an Intern at the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Appellate Division and a Law Clerk at the Office of the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment.


  • Leadership Buffalo, Class of 2020
  • Finalist, Athena Young Professional Leadership Award, 2018
  • Elected to the Board of Directors for the Bar Association of Erie County, 2018
  • Listed, Upstate New York Super Lawyers Rising Stars, 2014 - 2019
  • Listed, Upstate New York Super Lawyers, (Criminal Defense: White Collar) 2020
  • American Institute of Criminal Lawyers Ten Best Under 40, 2016
  • Lawyers of Color Hot List, 2013
  • Order of the Coif, George Washington University Law School
  • Former associate, George Washington Law Review


In the News

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Presentations & Events

Professional Associations

  • Bar Association of Erie County, Board of Directors

Community & Pro Bono

  • United Way, Board of Directors

Jason E. Markel

Hodgson Russ LLP

Jason concentrates his practice on complex civil litigation in both the trial and appellate courts. His practice encompasses general commercial and business disputes, corporate and partnership disputes, construction defects, insurance coverage, and general personal injury and insurance defense. He has written and argued numerous appeals in the New York State appellate courts.

Jason also devotes a significant portion of his practice to Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) consulting, regulatory compliance counseling, and the defense and management of OSHA inspections and whistleblower claims. He has represented manufacturers, construction contractors, sawmills, dairies, nonprofits, coating and dipping facilities, warehouse operators, supermarkets, fabricators, machine shops, trenchers, hospitals, nursing homes, and other businesses. He has published a number of articles regarding OSHA enforcement practices and strategies for mitigating OSHA exposures.

Jason’s multidisciplinary practice combines knowledge from several subject matter areas to facilitate a multifaceted approach to lawyering. He draws upon the interplay of insights, concepts, and experiences from each practice area, which enables a holistic approach to analyzing legal problems and developing strategies tailored to each client.

Jason is OSHA 10-Hour Construction Safety & Health certified.


  • Listed, Upstate New York Super Lawyers, (Business Litigation) 2007, 2011 - 2015, 2017 - 2020
  • Former computer editor, Syracuse Law Review
  • Justinian Honorary Law Society



Presentations & Events

Professional Associations

  • American Society of Safety Engineers

Benjamin M. Zuffranieri

Hodgson Russ LLP

Mr. Zuffranieri, Jr. has extensive experience and active involvement in commercial, construction and international law matters. His engagements include trials, appeals, arbitrations and mediations, both domestic and international. His cases generally involved complex matters with substantial sums in dispute, including bet-the-company litigations.

Mr. Zuffranieri is the Leader of the Business Litigation and Construction Practices. For many years, he was the Chair of the Hodgson Russ Litigation Practice and he has substantial experience in alternative dispute resolution processes. Among other things, Mr. Zuffranieri is an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association, National Roster of Neutrals, Commercial Panel. He has also been appointed to the federal court mediation panel for the Western District of the United States District Court. Additionally, he has participated as counsel and as a mediator in numerous arbitrations and mediations involving commercial, international, and construction disputes.

Mr. Zuffranieri was a lecturer at the University at Buffalo Law School from 1987 - 89 and at the State University of New York College at Buffalo from 1984 - 86.


  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, 2013-present
  • Best Lawyers' 2016 Buffalo Bet-the-Company Litigation “Lawyer of the Year”

  • Listed, Best Lawyers in America: Lawyer of the Year (Litigation - Construction) 2019, 2020
  • Listed, Best Lawyers in America (Commercial Litigation, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Litigation - Construction and Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants) 2007 - 2021
  • Listed, Upstate New York Super Lawyers, (Business Litigation) 2007 - 2020
  • Construction Lawyers Society of America, Fellow, 2018
  • Buffalo Business First/Buffalo Law Journal's Legal Elite of Western New York, 2014
  • Buffalo Business First/Buffalo Law Journal Who’s Who in Law, 2008
  • Buffalo State College President's Distinguished Service Award
  • SUNY Buffalo Law School Moot Court Board
  • Winner, Charles S. Desmond Moot Court Competition (Best Speaker Award)
  • Winner, Albert R. Mugel National Tax Competition (Best Brief Award)
  • Matthew J. Jasen Appellate Practice Award for academic achievement and appellate advocacy


Press Releases

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Presentations & Events

Professional Associations

  • Member, Federal Court Mediation Panel, WDNY
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Bar Association of Erie County

Community & Pro Bono

  • Director Emeritus and long-time Chair of the Legal/Audit Committee at the Buffalo State College Foundation, Inc.
  • Trustee, Burchfield Penney Art Center


Alison C.

Very useful information, well presented.

Raymundo M.


David O.

Very Helpful

Michele B.

excellent program on what is sure to be a potential problem for businesses for years to come

Laura N.

I would like to see more law programs on the PPP program and helping clients fill out the loan forgiveness forms that are being issued now

Diane R.

As an attorney and small business owner who applied for and received PPP funds, this course provided the most valuable information in a clear and concise way. The presenters were articulate and the program was the best CLE course I have taken in 25 years. Thank you.

Ruth H.

Excellent- presented clearly with substance and certainly timely information.

Margaret H.

Thank you, very timely

Dan A.

Very informative

Roya M.

Very well organized and presented.

Thomas S.

Very timely

Joseph N. D.

Already have .

Patrick J.

This is an excellent presentation with a number of areas to review in connection with applications for PPP loan forgiveness.

Jeanette L.

Absolutely excellent! Your team did an amazing presentation.

Larry S.

Very interesting

Jodi P.

Great lecture. Full of great information and strategies!

Willa L.

Fabulous up to date information that I really needed. Thanks to the presenters!

Ellen M.

Thanks for good program.

Thomas B.

Thank you!

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