Leland man sentenced for faking truck business to receive Covid-19 relief money

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 3:40 PM EDT
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LELAND, N.C. (WECT) - A man from Leland was sentenced on Wednesday to six months in prison and three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Per a news release from U.S. Attorney Michael Easley for the Eastern District of N.C., Joseph Alexander Casillas pleaded guilty to the charge on Feb. 16. He was also ordered to pay $92,734 in criminal restitution to the U.S. Small Business Administration. The release says that he lied about being the proprietor of a longstanding trucking business.

“According to court documents and other information presented in court, Casillas fraudulently applied for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in March and April 2021 in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the government,” states the release. “. Through the PPP program, businesses could apply for forgivable loans to retain jobs and pay certain qualifying expenses ... The business was also required to provide documentation to support its alleged payroll expenses.”

Casillas put in two fraudulent and false PPP loan applications requesting over $20,000 each for a fake trucking business with nearly $100,000 in annual payroll costs, according to the release.

“Among other things, to substantiate his claims, Casillas provided the lender with a fraudulent 2019 tax record. In reality, the company did not exist,” the release continues.