Miami, Florida – A South Florida tax preparer was indicted on Tuesday with criminal information of wire fraud as part of a scheme to obtain more than 100 COVID-19 relief loans under the Paycheque Protection Program (PPP).
According to the allegations in the news, Leonel Rivero, 35, of Miami, owned a tax preparation business and submitted around 118 fraudulent PPP loan applications on behalf of himself and his accomplices. Together, the 118 PPP loan applications requested more than $ 2.3 million in PPP loans. On every PPP loan application, Rivero allegedly falsified the applicant’s income and expenses from the previous year and submitted fraudulent tax forms to the IRS. Rivero and his accomplices are said to have received approximately $ 975,582 in PPP loans as a result of the fraud.
Rivero is scheduled to appear for the first time on March 23 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. If found guilty, Rivero faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
US Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the South Florida District Attorney’s Office; Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice; Acting Special Agent in Charge Tyler R. Hatcher of the Miami IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) office; and Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite of the US Small Business Administration, Office of the Inspector General (SBA-OIG), Investigations Division, Eastern Regional Office, made the announcement.
The IRS-CI is investigating the matter with the assistance of the SBA-OIG.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Browne of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and Attorney General Della Sentilles of the Justice Department’s Fraud Section are continuing the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Grosnoff is handling the asset forfeiture portion of the case.
The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) law is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. . One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of up to $ 349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses for job maintenance and certain other expenses, through the PPP. In April 2020, Congress authorized more than $ 300 billion in additional P3 funding.
The PPP allows small businesses and other eligible organizations to receive loans with a two-year term and an interest rate of 1%. The proceeds of the PPP loan are to be used by businesses on salary costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities. The PPP allows for the forgiveness of interest and principal of the PPP loan if the company spends the loan proceeds on these expenses within a specified time after receiving the proceeds and uses at least a certain percentage of the PPP loan proceeds on the expenses. salaries. .
The Fraud Section leads the Department of Justice’s prosecutions of fraud schemes that exploit the CARES Act. In the months following the passage of the CARES Act, Fraud Section lawyers prosecuted more than 100 defendants in more than 70 criminal cases. The Fraud Section also seized more than $ 65 million in cash proceeds from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous real estate and luxury items purchased with these products. More information is available at: https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/cares-act-fraud.
Information is only an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.