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Former JetBlue employee pleads guilty to COVID-19 loan fraud

Defendant is last of 7 conspirators convicted for stealing $1.5M in fraudulent small business loans

August 24, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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On Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn, Keily Nunez, 42, of Jamaica, Queens, who is a former employee of the airline JetBlue, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection to false statements he made to acquire loans for himself and his co-conspirators through claims under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

Nunez and four other co-conspirators were charged in June of last year. Tuesday’s proceeding was presided over by U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie.

The EIDL allots qualifying small businesses low-interest loans. Congress expanded the EIDL through The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to address revenue losses and economic damages done unto businesses as a result of COVID-19.

Nunez’s co-conspirators included Angel K. Colon, 39, of New Jersey, Orlando Sanay, 41, of New Jersey, Keimi Nunez, 42, of Woodhaven, Michael Pimentel Veloz, 41, of New Jersey, Fanny Plasencia, 31, of Queens and Ramon Osvaldo Pena, also of New Jersey. Between April and November of 2020, the conspirators applied for EIDL loans for eleven different business entities. The conspirators falsely represented the number of employees associated with the entities in the year prior to the pandemic.

Sanay, Veloz, Plasencia, Osvaldo-Pena and Colon pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Keimi Nunez previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

In one instance, Nunez submitted a loan application to the Small Business Association claiming that Plasencia was the C.O.O. and he the manager of a corporation called “FI USA Consulting LLC” also known as “FI USA.”

Nunez claimed that FI USA had employed 42 people with a gross revenue of $672,137 in the relevant period. The SBA approved the application and submitted $149,000 to FI USA’s bank account.

NYDOL records show that FI USA never reported having employed any persons. In addition, the IRS reported that the organization had not filed a tax return since its formation in 2017.

According to the Eastern District of New York, there is no evidence that the funds secured through the EIDL were used for business purposes, a requirement of the EIDL program. The SBA approved over $1.5 Million in deposited loans to the conspirators.

All the conspirators involved face up to 20 years in prison. All have agreed to forfeit fraudulently obtained loan funds.

Judge Raymond Dearie. Eagle file photo by Samuel Newhouse

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Ricky J. Patel, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, announced the guilty pleas.

“Each of the defendants admitted to their part in stealing nearly $1.5 million from a government program designed to help struggling small businesses and families survive the pandemic,” said United States Attorney Peace.

“Nunez and his co-conspirators fleeced the government to the tune of over $1.5 million, taking advantage of programs designed to keep small businesses afloat during a time of unprecedented economic volatility,” said HSI New York Acting Special Agent in Charge Patel.

“Since the early days of the COVID-19 global pandemic, HSI has been committed to uncovering pandemic fraud and holding accountable those who take advantage of tragedy to turn a profit.”

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