The Department of Justice just announced that California man, Robert Benlevi, was convicted by a federal jury of bank fraud, false statements to a financial institution, and money laundering for his role in a $27 million Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) fraud scheme. Benlevi’s conviction comes less than one month after Kevin Chambers, Chief Prosecutor for COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force, vowed to aggressively pursue and prosecute those who illegally obtained funds from PPP loans and other pandemic relief benefits.
According to the Department of Justice, Benlevi submitted 27 PPP applications and sought over $27 million in assistance. Benlevi claimed that each of his eight companies had 100 employees with average monthly payrolls of $400,000. However, none of these businesses had employees or payroll expenses. Three of Benlevi’s companies received $3 million in assistance and he used the PPP funds for personal expenses, including personal credit card payments and an oceanfront home. The evidence also showed that Benlevi submitted false documents to the IRS where he purported each of his companies had annual payrolls of $4.8 million.
Benlevi currently awaits sentencing where he faces up to 30 years in prison for each of the bank fraud and false statement charges. He also faces up to 10 years in prison for each count of money laundering. Thousands of civil and criminal cases against individuals and entities have been brought since the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force. It is estimated that over $1 billion in COVID-19 benefits have been fraudulently obtained.
The attorneys at Chilivis Grubman represent clients of all types and sizes in connection with federal criminal and civil investigations. If you need assistance with such a matter, please contact us today.