Brooklyn man arrested for $1.9 million Paycheck Protection Program fraud

 

Date: December 21, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), New York, announced the unsealing of a criminal complaint today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Leon Miles with wire fraud in connection with his scheme to obtain over $1.9 million from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which Congress created as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Miles was arrested this morning and will make his initial appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon.

"While most Americans are struggling during this pandemic, we see criminals over and over again trying to live out their dreams of a lavish lifestyle," stated IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Larsen. "Miles allegedly submitted a PPP loan application for nearly $2 million while claiming false information. He allegedly used these funds, in part, to purchase luxury vehicles. These types of actions hurt our people, our government and our country. IRS Criminal Investigation and our law enforcement partners will continue collaborating until every misappropriated PPP loan is accounted for and criminals are brought to justice."

The CARES Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020 to provide emergency financial assistance in connection with economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act was the allocation of funds for the issuance of forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses through the PPP. The PPP allowed qualifying small businesses to receive unsecured loans on favorable terms, which they were required to use for specified expenses, including payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. The PPP provided for forgiveness of the loan if recipient businesses spent the proceeds on these specified expenses within a limited time period and used a certain percentage for payroll costs.

As alleged in the complaint, in May 2020, Miles submitted an application for a $1,904,593.00 PPP loan on behalf of a limited liability company he owns in Brooklyn, New York, falsely claiming that the company had 50 employees and a total average monthly payroll of $761,838.00. In support of these claims, Miles submitted fraudulent personal and business tax returns and tax forms that were never filed with the IRS. In fact, he reported to the IRS no taxable income during the relevant period, and his company filed no tax returns and reported no wages paid to employees. The loan proceeds were disbursed to the defendant's personal savings account, and within days he had withdrawn hundreds of thousands of dollars, a portion of which he used to purchase a 2020 Bentley Continental for approximately $250,000 and a 2020 Cadillac Escalade for approximately $100,000.

The charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Robert M. Pollack with assistance from Assistant United States Attorney Brian D. Morris of the Office's Asset Forfeiture Section.