Home Web information Hilo man pleads guilty to COVID-19 relief fraud

Hilo man pleads guilty to COVID-19 relief fraud

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A Hilo man pleaded guilty to wire fraud today after submitting false payroll documents and tax forms to qualify for $937,575 in COVID-19 relief funds.

Carey Mills, 43, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson to a single-count information charge, charging him with wire fraud, according to a U.S. Justice Department press release. Mills will be sentenced Oct. 4 and faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $1,000,000 in fines.

The Paycheck Protection Program is a federal loan program that helped small businesses cover certain payroll costs, including benefits, mortgage interest, rent and utilities, when businesses slowed and some closed during the peak of the pandemic. The Economic Disaster Loan Program provides low-interest loans and grants to small businesses financially crippled by federally declared disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mills submitted multiple requests for PPP and EIDL funds on behalf of his three companies – Kanaka Maoli Hookupu Center, New Way Horizon Travel and Uilani Kawailehua Foundation – each time using interstate wires to submit the fake requests, according to evidence submitted to the court by the federal government. prosecutors.

“These companies included property information associated with Mill’s family and friends, whose information was part of the bogus loan applications — sometimes without their knowledge or permission,” according to federal court documents.

Mills falsified information on payroll documents and IRS forms, which included false employee payment records and wages to increase the amount he would be entitled to. As a result of the false and fraudulent claims, Mills received $937,575 in the form of two repayable PPP loans, an EIDL loan and an EIDL grant.

Most of the loan proceeds were spent on “quick succession” for Mills and his family, including personal expenses like rent. Mills and an unidentified person purchased two vacant lots located in Keaau, according to crime reports. The Department of Justice is also pursuing forfeiture of $69,791.77 seized from Title Guaranty Escrow Services Inc. on January, for proceeds from a sale of real estate located at 15-1544 15th Avenue, Lot 845, Keau.

Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF online complaint.