Trevor Gene Lanius-McLeod, 48, of Helena, Mont., thought he was justified in receiving $1 million in COVID-19 relief funds. When he filled out four applications for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans with the Valley Bank of Helena, he was certifying that everything he put on that form was the truth. (But it wasn’t. If it was, you wouldn’t be reading about this man today.)
Lanius-McLeod thought he’d take advantage of the huge pot of money that the government provided through the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. (After all, who would really be checking to see how he spent the money? The COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force, that’s who.)
Lanius-McLeod lied on the four applications and additional documentation he provided to Valley Bank of Helena. Consequently, he received $1,043,000 in funds, which should have been directed to small businesses who really needed to retain their employees and pay certain expenses during the pandemic.
One of the loans was for $340,000, which was supposed to be for Renovated Montana Properties LLP, an entity that Lanius-McLeod controlled. He was required to use the money to pay payroll taxes for 25 employees, which didn’t exist. He also agreed to use the loan for payroll costs and other business-related expenses. (Instead, he used the government funds to pay his mortgage. Clearly not a business expense.)
Lanius-McLeod was caught red-handed trying to pull the wool over the Valley Bank of Helena‘s “eyes,“ so to speak. He admitted to defrauding the financial institution out of $1 million. He pleaded guilty to bank fraud and to engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
Just as he felt justified in collecting government benefits he did not deserve, I’m sure the judge in this case will also feel justified when he hands down this fraudster’s sentence in April 2022. He is facing a maximum of 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release on the bank fraud crime. If the court accepts Lanius-McLeod’s plea agreement, the government will dismiss nine other counts charged in an indictment. (He would indeed be lucky to have that happen.)
While the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be winding down, the pandemic-related fraud cases continue to roll in. If you have any information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19, report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Format: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Helena man admits bank fraud in scheme for $1 million in COVID-19 relief loans,” dated on January 5, 2022.
GREAT FALLS — A Helena man admitted to crimes today stemming from a scheme to defraud a bank of more than $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and to using the funds instead for his personal benefit, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said today.
Trevor Gene Lanius-McLeod, 48, also known as Trevor Gene McLeod, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and to engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity. Lanius-McLeod faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the bank fraud crime.