Man with fake trucking company sentenced for Paycheck Protection Program fraud

May 15, 2023

Land Line Staff

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A North Carolina man who lied about a trucking company to receive Paycheck Protection Program loans will be serving time in prison.

On May 10, Joseph Alexander Casillas was sentenced to six months in prison an three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Casillas also has to pay nearly $93,000 in criminal restitution to the U.S. Small Business Administration for his role in the Paycheck Protection Program fraud.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of North Carolina, Casillas fraudulently applied for Paycheck Protection Program loans in March and April 2021. Specifically, Casillas submitted two fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loan applications for more than $20,000 each. In the applications, he falsely stated that he was the sole proprietor of a longstanding truck business that was incurring nearly $100,000 in annual payroll costs. Furthermore, Casillas provided the lender with a fraudulent 2019 tax record.

However, the trucking company receiving the Paycheck Protection Program loans did not exist.

Casillas was indicted last November. He pleaded guilty to charges in February.

Michael Easley, United States attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III. The United States Secret Service, based in Wilmington, N.C., investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Adam F. Hulbig prosecuted the case for the government.

The Paycheck Protection Program was created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March 2020 to provide emergency financial assistance to American small businesses that were suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the Paycheck Protection Program, businesses could apply for forgivable loans to retain jobs and pay certain qualifying expenses. In order to obtain a loan through the program, the business was required to make certain disclosures and certifications regarding its operations and acknowledge program rules. The business was also required to provide documentation to support its alleged payroll expenses.

According to a report released by the Small Business Administration in July 2020, more than 3,000 long-haul trucking companies received at least $150,000 in Paycheck Protection Program loans. The truckload sector was awarded 2,886 PPP loans, while the less-than-truckload sector was awarded 319 loans. Only 33 companies, truckload and LTL combined, received between $5 million and $10 million in PPP loans. The vast majority of loans, 52%, detailed in the report going to trucking companies were valued at $150,000 to $300,000. LL