HONOLULU – Carey Mills, 43, of Hilo, Hawaii, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson to a single-count indictment, charging him with wire fraud in connection with a a scheme to defraud the government of program funds intended for coronavirus-related relief. Sentencing is scheduled for October 4, 2022. Mills faces a maximum prison term of 30 years and a fine of up to $1,000,000.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a federal loan program designed to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic by providing funds to cover certain payroll costs, including benefits, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. The Economic Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) provides low-interest loans and grants to small businesses experiencing significant financial disruption due to federally declared disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic. 19.
According to information presented to the court, Mills submitted multiple applications for PPP and EIDL funds on behalf of three companies under his control, Kanaka Maoli Hookupu Center, New Way Horizon Travel and Uilani Kawailehua Foundation, each time using interstate cables. To support the claims, Mills submitted fraudulent payroll documents and IRS forms, which included false employee and salary payment records. As a result of the false and fraudulent claims, Mills received $937,575 in the form of two repayable PPP loans, an EIDL loan and an EIDL grant to which he was not entitled.
“Congress funded the PPP and EIDL programs to provide a financial lifeline to struggling small businesses in Hawaii and across the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors . “Unfortunately, bad actors have targeted these critical assistance programs and fraudulently misappropriated much-needed resources. Our office will investigate all allegations of unlawful use of these funds and is committed to ensuring that federal taxpayers’ money be used for the intended purpose.
“The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration will aggressively pursue those who attempt to defraud the taxpayer-funded coronavirus aid, relief and economic security programs, which were created to provide assistance to American business owners and their employees during these unprecedented times,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “We appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners in this effort.”
The investigation was conducted by the United States Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, with assistance from the Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Inspector General of the Small Business Administration and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rebecca M. Perlmutter and Gregg Paris Yates handled the prosecution.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to mobilize Department of Justice resources in partnership with government agencies to scale up enforcement and prevention efforts. pandemic-related fraud. The task force strengthens efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies administering relief programs to prevent fraud, among other methods, by increasing and integrating coordination mechanisms existing ones, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their agendas, and sharing and leveraging information and knowledge gained from previous enforcement efforts. For more information about the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about alleged attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 866-720-5721 or via NCDF’s online complaint form at: https://www. .justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.