Former JetBlue employee pleads guilty to COVID-19 loan fraud: Feds –

A former JetBlue employee from Jamaica is the latest of seven conspirators convicted of stealing nearly $1.5 million in fraudulently obtained COVID-19 small business loans.

Keily Nunez, 42, pleaded guilty on August 23 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with false statements he made to obtain loans for himself and his co-conspirators under the scheme EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan). Nunez previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud and he and his co-defendants face up to 20 years in prison upon sentencing, according to federal prosecutors.

“Each of the defendants admitted to playing their part in stealing nearly $1.5 million from a government program designed to help small businesses and struggling families survive the pandemic,” the U.S. attorney said. Breon Peace. “This office will continue to aggressively pursue those who seek to enrich themselves by abusing government programs.”

According to court documents, between April 2020 and November 2020, the defendants appealed for EIDL loans for eleven separate entities. In these claims, the defendants misrepresented the number of employees associated with the entities and misrepresented the entities’ gross revenues for the 12 months preceding the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, Nunez submitted a loan application to the Small Business Association (SBA) in April 2020, claiming that co-defendant Fanny Plasencia, also a resident of Jamaica, was the chief operating officer and Nunez was the director of FI USA. Consulting LLC (FIUSA). In the application, Nunez falsely claimed that FI USA had 42 employees and gross revenues of $672,137 for the relevant period. The SBA approved that request and transferred $149,900 to FI USA’s bank account, according to federal prosecutors.

Contrary to claims made in the application, New York Department of Labor records showed that FI USA never claimed to have any employees. IRS records further revealed that FI USA had never filed a tax return since its inception in 2017. There is no evidence that EIDL funds provided to FI USA were used for business purposes.

Based on the defendants’ false statements, the SBA approved approximately $1.5 million in loans that were deposited into the defendants’ bank accounts.

In addition to making false statements to obtain the loans, Nunez and his co-defendants failed to use relief funding for day-to-day business expenses as required by the EIDL program, prosecutors say. Instead, they withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from bank accounts that had received EIDL loan funds.

“Nunez and his co-conspirators defrauded the government of more than $1.5 million, taking advantage of programs designed to keep small businesses afloat during a time of unprecedented economic volatility,” said Ricky J, agent Acting Special Head of Homeland Security Investigations in New York. patel. “Since the earliest days of the global COVID-19 pandemic, HSI has been committed to uncovering pandemic fraud and holding accountable those who take advantage of tragedy to make a profit.”

Nunez is also charged in a separate case with conspiring to defraud Long Island City-based JetBlue out of more than $1 million, along with three co-defendants.

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