A pair of New Jersey residents, who allegedly got ahold of almost $3.3 million of COVID relief fund payouts and managed to buy land in Texas, are being examined and charged by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as the department attempts to crack down on federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud.
Aged 51, Jean E. Rabbitt has allegedly submitted PPP applications fraudulently for four of her businesses, sporting fraudulent tax records and payroll records. It was stated to the DOJ by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that none of the tax records submitted for the PPP funds were ever actually filed with the IRS.
After getting issued roughly $3.3 million, it was alleged that Rabbitt sent to Kevin Aguilar, also aged 51, to make “sham payroll companies,” read one press release. Checks were issued from various businesses under the control of Rabbitt to many other companies that were under the control of Aguilar. The then-Monmouth Country, New Jersey, residents made use of the PPP funds to obtain properties out in Sherman, Texas, and to “pay for personal expenses.”
Rabbitt has also been slammed with a charge of bank fraud, all the while both of them are said to have been charged with conspiracy to engage in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, as reported by the DOJ.
“Rabbitt also made false and fraudulent statements and used falsified and fraudulent documents in support of applications for forgiveness of certain of the PPP loans,” stated the Justice Department. “Based on Rabbitt’s false and fraudulent certifications and documents, the SBA paid more than $2 million dollars to lenders in connection with the fraudulent PPP loans Rabbitt obtained.”
Additional counts of “conspiracy to engage in monetary transactions in property derived from the specified unlawful activity and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison,” read a press release. Each individual count of bank fraud could result in a $1 million fine alongside a possible 30-year maximum prison sentence.
The DOJ has been hard at work recently in its efforts to combat COVID relief fraud via its enforcement task force that came to be this past May of 2021. The program has been found to be infested with cases of fraud, with a report going so far as to claim that well over 15% of the total loans handed out were entirely fraudulent. Old Uncle Joe stated this past Tuesday, as part of his State of the Union address, that the DOJ will set in place a chief prosecutor for all coronavirus-related fraud.
“We’re gonna go after the criminals who stole billions of relief money meant for small business and millions of Americans,” claimed Biden. Officials with the White House stated that the agents will “use state-of-the-art data analytics tools” to identify identity fraud and any plans in relation to the PPP.