This week, a North Carolina man was sentenced to prison on a fraud charge after asking the government for COVID-19 related business relief funding on behalf of a trucking company that did not exist.
On May 10, Joseph Alexander Casillas was sentenced to six months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
In February 2023, Casillas pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Authorities say that Casillas fraudulently applied for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in March and April 2021. These loans were created to help businesses stay afloat and retain employees amid the economic strain caused by the pandemic.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says that Casillas claimed to be the owner of a longstanding trucking company with $100,000 in annual payroll expenses. Casillas submitted two false and fraudulent PPP loan applications, each of which requested over $20,000 and Casillas provided the lender with a fraudulent 2019 tax record to substantiate his claims. In reality, the trucking company did not exist.
In addition to the prison sentence, Casillas was order to pay $92,734 in criminal restitution to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
The United States Secret Service investigated the case.