44 individuals indicted by federal grand jury for roles in a multimillion-dollar fraudulent scheme to obtain COVID-19 relief funds


Date: May 18, 2023

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, announced the indictment of 44 individuals for their participation in a multi-million-dollar fraudulent scheme to illegally obtain federal recovery funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Grand Jury charged the defendants with multiple counts of wire fraud and money laundering. The charging documents allege that from April 2020 through May 2023, the defendants and their co-conspirators caused the submission of at least 52 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications seeking the illegal disbursement of at least $1,237,855 in federal recovery funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Bank 1.

"These defendants stole over $1 million through fraudulent means and used those funds to support their own personal lifestyles, taking needed resources from those whose legitimate businesses were suffering from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic," said U.S. Attorney Muldrow. "Federal programs such as these are set up to help those in need, not to benefit criminals. Prosecution of those who illegally obtain government benefits will continue to be a priority for our office."

The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the United States Secret Service, the Small Business Administration Office of the Inspector General, and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration conducted the investigation with the collaboration of the Puerto Rico Treasury Department, the Puerto Rico Bureau of Special Investigations, the Puerto Rico Police Bureau, and the Guaynabo Municipal Police.

According to court documents, defendant Hendrick Socorro Sánchez Orta, a.k.a. "Cuba/Tito", together with Manfred A. Pentzke Lemus, a.k.a. "Man/Contable/El Gestor", Rodolpho R. Pagesy Roussel, a.k.a. "El Banquero", Augusto A. Lemus Berrios, a.k.a. "Primo", Jonatan Ben David Prieto Ruiz De Val, a.k.a. "Johnny Millones", Ligia María Lemus De Pentzke, and others knowingly devised a scheme to defraud the SBA and Bank 1 to obtain federal money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises submitted through applications for EIDL and PPP loans made available to help small businesses recover from the impact of the pandemic through the CARES Act. Pentzke Lemus, Pagesy Roussel, Lemus Berrios, Prieto Ruiz De Val, and Lemus De Pentzke were previously charged in April in a separate indictment.

The defendants are:

  1. Hendrick Socorro Sánchez Orta, a.k.a. "Cuba/Tito"
  2. Julia E. Pastrana Romero
  3. Hillary Sánchez Santiago
  4. Harold H. Sánchez Santiago
  5. Yeimyliz E. Díaz Pastrana
  6. Alex Gotay Concepción
  7. Alexandra Dávila Ortiz
  8. Alexis X. Pantoja Díaz
  9. Ángel M. Martínez Martínez
  10. Arnaldo X. Rodríguez Camacho
  11. Betzaida Ortiz García
  12. Carlos E. Peña Santiago
  13. Christian J. Rivera Renovales
  14. Denisse Y. Rodríguez De Jesús
  15. Divad Román Estrada
  16. Eduardo Pastrana Morales
  17. Félix D. Lara Vázquez
  18. Héctor I. Santiago Díaz
  19. Iris Y. Díaz Pérez
  20. Ivelisse Nieves Irizarry
  21. Jan A. Hernández Martínez
  22. Javier Vélez Torres
  23. Jesús E. Soto Lozada
  24. Josearyam Gotay León
  25. Joseph Morales Santiago
  26. Juan L. Rivera Mundo
  27. Katty M. De León Delgado
  28. Kenned A. Velázquez Toledo
  29. Luis E. Reyes Sandoval
  30. Luis A. Rodríguez De Jesús
  31. Marla Pereira Medina
  32. Nicole M. Suárez Padilla
  33. Oscar López Cruz
  34. Rafael J. Mejías González
  35. Reynaldo López Agrinzoni
  36. Ricardo J. Ramos Moyet
  37. Roberto Gotay Concepción
  38. Ruth D. Trinidad De León
  39. Sergio A. León Pérez
  40. Tomás E. Cátala Suárez
  41. Wanda M. Rodríguez Feliciano
  42. Wendee P. Cedeño Rosa
  43. Yadisha Morales Santiago
  44. Yoel Rivera Hernández

The CARES Act authorized federal assistance through the issuance of SBA loans to small businesses and non-profit entities that experienced revenue loss due to the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. The EIDL program was one such loan assistance program for small businesses. To procure the loan, applicants had to fill out an online application detailing operational information for the 12 month period prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the number of employees in the business, the gross business revenues realized, and the cost of goods sold. Another form of assistance provided by the CARES Act was the authorization of United States taxpayer funds in forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses, such as interest on mortgages, rent and utilities, through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

The indictment alleges that the defendants and their co-conspirators submitted at least 52 fraudulent EIDL and PPP loan applications containing materially false and fraudulent information and false documents, including false and fictitious tax documents, payroll records, bank records, and identification documents, to procure the disbursement of EIDL and PPP assistance loans by Bank 1. The indictment further alleges that the defendants and their co-conspirators directed the recipients of the fraudulently obtained PPP and EIDL loans to remit a portion of the proceeds of the loans to the defendants and their co-conspirators and used the loan proceeds to benefit themselves and others, and to pay for expenses prohibited under the requirements of the EIDL and PPP programs.

The court documents claim that defendant Manfred A. Pentzke Lemus was the principal organizer of the fraudulent scheme and the efforts to launder the proceeds; defendant Rodolpho R. Pagesy Roussel worked at Bank 1 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and used his position to obtain the approval of fraudulent PPP applications; defendant Augusto A. Lemus Berríos assisted in the preparation of fraudulent PPP applications; defendant Jonatan Ben David Prieto Ruiz De Val acted as a money courier and coordinated the delivery of "kickback" payments to further the fraudulent scheme; defendant Ligia María Lemus De Pentzke received "kickback" payments from proceeds of the fraudulent scheme and forwarded them to her co conspirators; and defendant Carlos Manfredo Pentzke Chamorro received fraudulent PPP and EIDL loans in furtherance of the conspiracy. The defendants, including 1. Hendrick Socorro Sánchez Orta, a.k.a. "Cuba/Tito", are also alleged to have recruited other unindicted co-conspirators to not only obtain additional EIDL and PPP loans under false pretenses, but recruit others to submit fraudulent applications.

The United States seized approximately $848,957.96 in proceeds of this scheme from Bank 1, which are currently subject to forfeiture.

If convicted, the defendants are facing up to 30 years in prison for the wire fraud counts. Hendrick Socorro Sánchez Orta is also facing up to 20 years of imprisonment for the money laundering count and a forfeiture allegation of the following assets:

  • One Burgundy 2003 Hummer H2
  • One Gold 2013 Lexus ES 350
  • One 2015 Chrysler 300
  • One Caterpillar Electrical Power Generator 19.4 kW with Transfer Switch
  • Assorted Fitness Equipment Valued at Approximately $40,000

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy R. Henwood and Daniel J. Olinghouse.

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