Seven People Sentenced to Prison in COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program Fraud Scheme
Miami - Tuesday May 23, 2023: The last of seven defendants in a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud scheme has been sentenced. Yunior Barrera Almaguer (Barrera) 39, of Miami, Florida was sentenced to 87 months in prison for leading a conspiracy to defraud the PPP out of loan proceeds.
These loans are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
Barrera was the leader of the conspiracy, who conspired with Jorge S. Alvarez, Dariel Garcia Carmona, Jose Raul Amaro, Leiner Pena Infante, Yandre Garcia Hernandez, Eduardo Ramos Leyva, and others to submit approximately 20 fraudulent PPP loan applications. According to facts admitted by the defendants as part of their guilty pleas, Barrera recruited his co-conspirators and others for necessary information to apply for the PPP loans, such as each business name and bank account routing number, and the business owner’s personal identifying information. Barrera then applied for the loans with an unindicted co-conspirator, causing approximately $9 million in fraudulently issued PPP loans. After each business received their PPP loans, Barrera instructed the co-conspirator business owners to give him blank, pre-signed checks drawn on the business so that Barrera could access the PPP funds. Barrera also instructed the co-conspirator business owners to write checks on the companies’ accounts at his direction. By doing so, Barrera and his co-conspirators laundered the fraudulently obtained loan funds by transferring the proceeds between their companies, to each other, and to others.
Barrera pled guilty on November 9, 2022, to one count of conspiracy to launder money. In addition to prison time, Barrera must pay $9,007,887 in restitution. Alvarez, Garcia Carmona, Amaro, Pena Infante, Garcia Hernandez, and Ramos Leyva also pled guilty for their roles in the conspiracy, were sentenced to imprisonment terms ranging from one year and one day to 36 months and must pay restitution in amounts ranging from $381,600 to $720,860.
U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI, Miami Field Office, announced the sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks.
FBI Miami, West Palm Beach Resident Agency investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Osborne prosecuted it. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emily Stone and William T. Zloch are handling asset forfeiture.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 22-cr-80118.