Two Montana Men Charged With Million Dollar COVID-19 Relief Fraud Program | USAO-MT

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BILLING – Two Montana men were recently arraigned on charges in a scheme to defraud a bank of about $ 1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (P3) loans and use those funds for their personal benefit, including the purchase of goods and vehicles, Acting US Attorney Leif M. Johnson said today.

Trevor Gene Lanius-McLeod, also known as Trevor Gene McLeod, 48, of Laurel, and Kasey Jones Wilson, 29, of Helena, each pleaded not guilty to an indictment accusing them of bank fraud and having engaged in monetary transactions in goods derived from specified illegal activity. If convicted of the most serious crime, defendants face a maximum of 30 years in prison, a fine of $ 250,000 and three years of supervised release.

Lanius-McLeod was arraigned on July 27 before US magistrate judge John T. Johnston in Great Falls. Wilson was arraigned on July 27 before US trial judge Timothy J. Cavan in Billings. The two defendants were released pending further proceedings.

The government alleged in court documents that from around April 2020 to around December 2020, the defendants applied for and received four PPP loans totaling $ 1,043,000 through Valley Bank of Helena, a division of Glacier Bank, on behalf of of four business entities. Lanius-McLeod applied for funds as an authorized representative of T. McLeod Holdings LLC, Hilltop Estates LLC and Renovated Montana Properties LLP. Lanius-McLeod and Wilson applied for funds as authorized representatives of Step Above Management LLC. In the claims, the defendants made numerous false claims about paying payroll taxes and having employees. In promissory notes, the defendants agreed to use the loan funds for salary costs, costs related to health care benefits and group insurance premiums, rent, utilities, interest on debt payments and refinancing a Small Business Administration economic disaster loan. Instead, the defendants spent the funds on personal expenses for their private benefit. If found guilty, the defendants risk confiscation of property related to the crimes, including property in East Helena, four vehicles and a trailer.

The PPP program, which is part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) law, provided emergency assistance to small businesses for job retention and some other expenses .

An indictment is only an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.

U.S. Assistant Attorney Colin M. Rubich is pursuing the case, which has been investigated by the IRS-Criminal Investigation and the FBI, with assistance from the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Administration tax and the US secret service.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General created the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Working Group to mobilize the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with government agencies to strengthen efforts to combat and prevent the pandemic fraud. The Working Group strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable national and international criminal actors and assists agencies responsible for administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by scaling up and integrating mechanisms coordination, identifying resources and techniques for uncovering fraudulent actors and their programs, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Anyone with information about allegations of 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 form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

Reference of the PACER case. 07-21.

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