Florida man to plead guilty to $2.5 million COVID-19 fraud | USAO-MA

BOSTON — A former Massachusetts resident has been charged and has agreed to plead guilty to filing fraudulent claims for $2.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds made available in under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act.

Vinicius Santana, 34, of Boca Raton, Fla. and formerly of Revere, has been charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of illegal monetary transactions. A plea hearing has not yet been scheduled by the court. Santana had previously been arrested and criminally charged with the single wire fraud offense in June 2022.

According to the charging document, Santana owned Complete Home Care, LLC (CHC), a Massachusetts paint company. In April 2020, Santana submitted four different PPP loan applications on behalf of CHC. The first three requests, in which Santana allegedly listed five employees and an average monthly payroll of between $10,000 and $18,000, were denied. In CHC’s fourth application, it is alleged that Santana falsely claimed to have 154 employees and an average monthly payroll of $1 million. On May 11, 2020, a bank granted Santana’s company a loan of $2,500,000 based on the alleged misrepresentations of the fourth request.

After receiving the funds, it is alleged that Santana misused the loan proceeds to buy real estate and cars and invest in cryptocurrency.

The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering from the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the sources of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of repayable loans to small businesses for the maintenance of employment and certain approved expenses, through the PPP.

The wire fraud charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or double the gross gain or loss of the scheme, whichever is greater. raised. The charge of illegal monetary transactions carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or double the value of the criminal property. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on US sentencing guidelines and the laws that govern sentencing in a criminal case.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Stephen Donnelly, Acting Special Agent for the Eastern Region, Office of the Inspector General of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Patricia Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, New York Region; and Ketty Larco-Ward, Inspector in Charge of the United States Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mackenzie A. Queenin and Benjamin A. Saltzman of Rollins’ Securities, Finance and Cyber ​​Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or via NCDF’s online complaint form at: https://www. .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a court.

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