Stepping Above the Law

Male hands counting dollars, black salary, money laundering, illegal business, stock footage

Two Montana men have been arraigned after allegedly scheming to defraud a bank of $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The indictment charges the men with bank fraud and with engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

Trevor Gene Lanius-McLeod, 48, and Kasey Jones Wilson, 29, have pleaded not guilty to their charges.

Between April and December 2020, the two men allegedly schemed to defraud the Valley Bank of Helena by applying for and receiving $1,043,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The applications were submitted on behalf of four businesses, McLeod Holdings LLC, Hilltop Estates LLC, Renovated Montana Properties LLP, and Step Above Management LLC.

The applications listed Lanius-McLeod as the authorized representative for three of the business entities. The fourth application listed both Lanius-McLeod and Wilson as the authorized representatives of Step Above Management LLC. In these fraudulent applications, false statements were made about having employees and paying payroll taxes.

The defendants allegedly declared that they would use the loans received to cover payroll, rent, and utility costs among other costs related to group health care benefits. (Apparently, the defendants used the government funds for personal expenses.)

If these two men are convicted, each may face up to 30 years in prison with and additional three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. They may also have to forfeit property related to their scheme, four vehicles and a travel trailer. (Perhaps the court should let those who were denied PPP loans even though they deserved to receive assistance make the final decision.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a U.S. Secret Service press release, “Two Montana Men Charged With $1 Million COVID-19 Relief Fraud Scheme,” dated August 3, 2021.

BILLINGS – Two Montana men were arraigned recently on charges in connection with a scheme to defraud a bank of approximately $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and to use those funds for their personal benefit, including buying property and vehicles, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said today.

Trevor Gene Lanius-McLeod, also known as Trevor Gene McLeod, 48, of Laurel, and Kasey Jones Wilson, 29, of Helena, each pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging them with bank fraud and with engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity. If convicted of the most serious crime, the defendants face a maximum 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.


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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.