2 Men Indicted In Alleged $1 Million Covid Relief Scheme

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal prosecutors announced charges on Tuesday against two Montana men accused of pocketing $1 million in loans that were meant to cover payroll and other expenses through the federal government's COVID-19 relief program.

Trevor Lanius-McLeod, 48, of Laurel and Kasey Wilson, 29, of Helena pleaded not guilty in recent court appearances to bank fraud and unlawful monetary transactions, court records show.

They face a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

The men received loans of $1 million through the government’s Paycheck Protection Program to cover payroll and other business expenses, but prosecutors said they used the money for their personal benefit.

The loans were intended to help small businesses weather the pandemic without cutting jobs, and can be fully forgiven if certain conditions are met.

Attorneys for Wilson and Lanius-McLeod did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

If convicted, they could be forced to forfeit property that prosecutors said was related to their crimes, including a 2,000-square foot house in East Helena, a 26-foot travel trailer and four vehicles, according to an indictment unsealed last month.

The case is set for a September trial before U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Great Falls.