Defendant used funds to buy real estate, cars and to invest in cryptocurrency
BOSTON – A former Massachusetts resident was sentenced today in connection with filing fraudulent applications to obtain $2.5 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds made available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Vinicius Santana, 35, of Boca Raton, Fla. and formerly of Revere, Mass. was sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 29 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Santana was also ordered to pay restitution of $2.5 million and forfeiture. In September 2022, Santana pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of unlawful monetary transactions.
Santana owned Complete Home Care, LLC (CHC), a painting company in Massachusetts. In April 2020, Santana submitted several different PPP loan applications on behalf of CHC. In the initial applications, Santana listed five employees and an average monthly payroll of between $10,000 and $18,000. These applications were denied. In the fourth application for CHC, Santana falsely claimed to have 154 employees and an average monthly payroll of $1 million. On May 11, 2020, a bank issued Santana’s company a $2.5 million loan based on the false representations in the fourth application.
After receiving the funds, Santana misused the loan proceeds to buy real estate and cars and to invest in cryptocurrency.
The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain approved expenses, through the PPP.
Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Brian Tucker, Special Agent in Charge, Eastern Region, Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (FRB-OIG); Patricia Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General, New York Region; and Ketty Larco-Ward, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mackenzie A. Queenin and Benjamin A. Saltzman of the Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit and Carol E. Head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit prosecuted the case.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior 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 Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
This product has been reproduced from its original source.