PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A Peoria man pleaded guilty Thursday to allegations he improperly received COVID-relief money through the Paycheck Protection Program.

In March, Shon Smith, 33, was charged in U.S. District Court in Peoria with one count each of mail fraud, wire fraud, and making a false statement regarding a scheme to illegally obtain PPP money from June 2020 through June 2021.

But on Thursday, he pleaded guilty to the false statement charge in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge James Shadid, a felony that could send him to prison for up to five years.

He will remain free on bond pending his sentencing in February, according to court records.

In his indictment, he’s alleged to have obtained money from Indiana through unemployment insurance by claiming he was a painter. He also claimed, the indictment stated, he was a barber and made $160,000 a year to get PPP money.

Smith got a $20,833 PPP loan in May 2021 and then tried again a week later but was rejected.

In all, the indictment stated, he is alleged to have obtained $49,000 in connection with the yearlong scheme.