Miami, Florida – A South Florida tax preparer was charged Tuesday by criminal information with wire fraud in connection with a scheme to obtain over 100 COVID-19-relief loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
According to the allegations in the information, Leonel Rivero, 35, of Miami, owned a tax-preparation business and submitted approximately 118 fraudulent PPP loan applications on behalf of himself and his accomplices. Combined, the 118 PPP loan applications sought more than $2.3 million in PPP loans. On each PPP loan application, Rivero allegedly falsified the applicant’s prior-year income and expenses and submitted fraudulent IRS tax forms. Rivero and his accomplices allegedly received approximately $975,582 in PPP loans as a result of the fraud.
Rivero is scheduled for his initial court appearance on March 23 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. If convicted, Rivero faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida; Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting Special Agent in Charge Tyler R. Hatcher of the IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Miami Office; and Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG), Investigations Division, Eastern Regional Office, made the announcement.
The IRS-CI is investigating the case with assistance from the SBA-OIG.