Miami, Florida - A South Florida tax preparer was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison for perpetrating a scheme to fraudulently obtain over 100 COVID-19 relief loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

According to court documents, Leonel Rivero, 35, of Miami, owned a tax-preparation business and submitted approximately 118 fraudulent PPP loan applications on behalf of himself and his accomplices. Combined, the 118 loan applications sought more than $2.3 million in PPP funds. On each loan application, Rivero falsified the applicant’s prior-year sole proprietorship income and expenses and submitted fraudulent IRS tax forms. Rivero and his accomplices received approximately $900,000 in PPP loans as a result of the fraud. As part of his plea agreement, Rivero agreed to forfeit that entire amount.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Matthew Line of the IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Miami Office; and Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of the Inspector General (SBA-OIG) Investigations Division, Eastern Regional Office made the announcement.

The IRS-CI investigated the case with assistance from the SBA-OIG.

Trial Attorney Della Sentilles of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Browne of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida prosecuted the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Grosnoff handled the asset-forfeiture component of the case.