Florida man sentenced to 2 years for COVID-19 rescue fraud

MIAMI (AP) – A South Florida tax preparer was sentenced to two years in federal prison on Wednesday for raising nearly $ 1 million in COVID-19 relief funds after submitting more than 100 fraudulent claims for himself and for others.

Leonel Rivero, 35, was sentenced in federal court in Miami, court records show. He had previously pleaded guilty to electronic fraud. He was also ordered to pay over $ 1 million in restitution.

Rivero owned a tax preparation business and submitted about 118 fraudulent paycheck protection program loan applications on behalf of himself and his accomplices, according to the criminal complaint. Those loan requests totaled more than $ 2.3 million, and Rivero and his accomplices received about $ 975,582, investigators said. On each loan application, Rivero falsified the applicant’s income and expenses from the previous year and submitted fraudulent tax forms to the IRS, officials said.

The Paycheque Protection Program represents billions of dollars in repayable small business loans for Americans struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s part of the coronavirus relief program that became federal law last year.


Track AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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