JetBlue workers among 5 accused of $ 1 million virus loan fraud



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Law360 (June 10, 2021, 7:03 p.m. EDT) – Five residents of New York and New Jersey, including three current and former JetBlue Airways employees, were arrested and charged on Thursday with fraudulently obtaining $ 1 million in funds from COVID-19 relief by lying about the workforce and income of their personal businesses on loan applications.

Brooklyn federal prosecutors have charged Orlando Sanay, Keimi Nunez, Keily Nunez, Michael Pimentel Veloz and Fanny Plasencia with wire fraud by illegally obtaining industry disaster loans specific to a pandemic for eight companies that did not employ any workers or generate income. Sanay was released on $ 100,000 bond and the other defendants were released on $ 50,000 bond during arraignments Thursday, a prosecution spokesperson told Law360.

“As alleged, the defendants brazenly lied and stole more than $ 1 million in public funds from a program designed to help small businesses and their employees struggling to stay afloat and make ends meet during the pandemic “said the Interim US Attorney for the East. New York District Mark J. Lesko in a statement Thursday.

Prosecutors said Sanay and Keily Nunez currently work for JetBlue and that many of the EIDL requests in question were submitted from the airline’s IP address. Keily’s twin brother Keimi Nunez also worked for JetBlue, but is no longer employed by the company, according to an unsealed criminal complaint Thursday. A spokesperson for JetBlue told Law360 on Thursday that “JetBlue is fully cooperating with law enforcement in this matter.”

According to prosecutors, the defendants submitted EIDL applications for each of the eight companies they owned to the US Small Business Administration between April and August 2020. They ultimately obtained $ 1 million in loans after claiming that each company employed between four and 41 workers and had gross income. revenues ranging from $ 396,000 to $ 3.2 million, according to prosecutors.

But according to New York Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service records, the government said none of the defendants’ companies have employed workers or filed tax returns since their incorporation. .

Prosecutors further alleged that instead of spending EIDL funds on business expenses, as required by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the defendants carried out large money transfers and withdrawals and used funds for personal expenses such as car payments.

Veloz’s lawyer defended his client in a comment to Law360 on Thursday.

“I think Mr. Veloz is a decent human being, a single dad, a hard working man,” said Kenneth Montgomery of Kenneth J. Montgomery PLLC. “We will respond to these government allegations.”

The lawyer for the other defendants declined to comment on the charges on Thursday.

The government is represented by Patrick J. Campbell of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Sanay is represented by Michael Padden of the Federal Defenders of New York Inc.

Keily Nunez is represented by Jesse Siegel of the law firm Jesse M. Siegel.

Keimi Nunez is represented by Dorea Silverman of Colson Law PLLC.

Veloz is represented by Kenneth Montgomery of Kenneth J. Montgomery PLLC.

Plasencia is represented by Tom Dunn of Thomas FX Dunn Attorney At Law.

The case is USA v. Sanay et al., Case number 1: 21-mj-00668, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

–Edited by Ellen Johnson.

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