Saving ten jobs during the pandemic is what one woman claimed in her Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application.
Now she has entered a plea deal for lying about how many employees she had and how she used the money.
Federal prosecutors say after Liliana Gonzalez got a PPP loan of nearly $170,000, she had an in-ground pool built and was paid in full with the money meant to help her business.
Gonzalez’s Cape Coral home is also where his hair salon business is run. Prosecutors say the same month she applied for a PPP loan. She also filed documents to reinstate her business.
“When you go through the Small Business Association, they’re probably scrutinized by auditors, the US Treasury Department, and different authorities helping them decide which ones to review and prosecute and which ones are clearly a fraud,” said Scot Goldberg, managing partner at Goldberg Noone Abraham.
The attorney, Scot Goldberg, helped break the plea deal, where Gonzalez would have to take responsibility and agree to pay restitution.
“You see choosing and choosing to do audits, or they get information through affidavits in documents seeking pardons that don’t add up. So that’s when you’re going to see lawsuits like this come out of the carpentry on a $170,000 loan,” Goldberg said.
Public loan information for the PPP loan that Gonzalez received indicates that she claimed to have ten employees in her home-based business. Each earning over $81,000.
The loan was supposed to help Gonzalez retain employees during the pandemic, but prosecutors say the information was made up.
“There’s a lot of paperwork and affidavits and stuff that needs to be filed under the pardon part. And that opens people up to more responsibility and of course scrutiny by looking at these loans more closely to make sure they are being used for what has been requested and what the government allows,” said Goldberg.
The PPP loan was then used to build a swimming pool, prosecutors say. Goldberg says prosecutors are pursuing bigger sentences and more time behind bars as a deterrent.
“They need to do this to make sure that if it ever happens again, people know the laws have teeth when you break them, and especially when you break them against a financial institution because it’s the federal government,” Goldberg said. mentioned.
Goldberg said a federal judge has yet to sign the plea agreement.
If that happens, Gonzalez will have to confiscate assets from the federal government to cover the cost of the loan.
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