Florida Man Gets 2 Years For Covid-19 Relief Fraud

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

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

Rivero owned a tax-preparation business and submitted approximately 118 fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan applications on behalf of himself and his accomplices, according to the criminal complaint. Those loan applications sought a total of more than $2.3 million, and Rivero and his accomplices received approximately $975,582, investigators said. On each loan application, Rivero falsified the applicant’s prior-year income and expenses and submitted fraudulent IRS tax forms, officials said.

The Paycheck Protection Program represents billions of dollars in forgivable small-business loans for Americans struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's part of the coronavirus relief package that became federal law last year.

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