Former JetBlue employee pleads guilty to COVID-19 loan fraud | USAO-EDNY

Earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, Keily Nunez, a former employee of JetBlue Airways, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with false statements Nunez made to obtain loans for himself and his co-conspirators under the Economic Disaster Lending (EIDL) program. Nunez and four co-conspirators were indicted in June 2021. Today’s proceedings took place before U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie.

As part of the scheme, five other defendants previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud: Orlando Sanay, Michael Pimentel Veloz, Fanny Plasencia, Ramon Osvaldo Pena and Angel K. Colon. Additionally, co-defendant Keimi Nunez previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Once convicted, all defendants face up to 20 years in prison and have agreed to forfeit fraudulently obtained loan funds.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Ricky J. Patel, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI), announced the guilty pleas.

“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 prosecutor said. the peace of the United States. “This office will continue to vigorously pursue those who seek to enrich themselves by abusing government programs.”

“Nunez and his co-conspirators defrauded the government of more than $1.5 million, profiting from programs designed to keep small businesses afloat during a time of unprecedented economic volatility,” said Ricky J. Patel , Acting Special Agent for HSI New York. . “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.”

The EIDL program provides eligible small businesses with low-interest loans. The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act) expanded the EIDL to provide economic support to compensate for the temporary loss of revenue suffered by businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As noted in court filings, between April 2020 and November 2020, defendants applied 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 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, Nunez submitted a loan application to the Small Business Association (SBA) in April 2020, claiming that Plasencia was the COO and Nunez was the director of FI USA Consulting LLC (FI USA). In the application, Nunez falsely asserted that FI USA had 42 employees and gross revenues of $672,137 for the relevant period. The SBA approved FI USA’s request and on July 13, 2020 wired $149,900 to FI USA’s bank account. Contrary to claims made in the application, New York Department of Labor records showed that FI USA never claimed to have any employees. Internal Revenue Service 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 defendants’ misrepresentations, the Small Business Administration approved approximately $1.5 million in loans that were deposited into defendants’ bank accounts.

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

Once convicted, all defendants face up to 20 years in prison and have agreed to forfeit fraudulently obtained loan funds.

The case is being handled by the Bureau’s Corporate and Securities Fraud Section. Justice Department Attorney Patrick J. Campbell and Assistant U.S. Attorney Garen S. Marshall are in charge of the prosecutions, while Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanisha Payne of the Collections Section of the Office’s assets, handles confiscation cases.

The defendants:

Age: 42 years old
Jamaica, New York

Age: 41
Elizabeth, New Jersey

Age: 42 years old
Woodhaven, New York

Age: 41
Garfield, New Jersey

Age: 31
Jamaica, New York

EDNY File #21-CR-496 (RJD)

Age: 39
Maywood, New Jersey

EDNY File #21-CR-560 (RJD)

Age: 39
Garfield, New Jersey

EDNY File #22-CR-202 (RJD)

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